SUPER-DRAGON

A dragon contest is announced. There will be fire-breathing competitions and flying acrobatics. Young Drago wants in on the action, but his sister says he’s too little, his mother reminds him that he doesn’t know how to fly, his father counsels that next year he will be bigger. But Drago has pluck. With the help of Tweet the bird, he not only learns how to use his wings (which is akin to learning how to ride a bicycle—after many false starts, it just happens), but becomes a veritable demon of the sky. Holgate’s comic-book–style illustrations, featuring primordial landscapes through which Drago moves with high octane, lighten this straightforward lesson in perseverance, but readers will have some obvious questions about Drago’s circumstances. Why didn’t Drago’s family give him at least a chance to learn to fly, since clearly he was ready? Why did he have to learn to fly at night? And why did Drago feel it necessary to hide his newfound talent from his family? It all feels strangely furtive when it should be the natural course of things. Yet it is gratifying that Drago exceeds all expectations by zipping through a snappy series of figure 8s, while his family can do no better than figure 5s, 7s and 9s. Nyah, nyah, nyah, naysayers. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-7614-5819-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Marshall Cavendish

Review Posted Online: Jan. 8, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2011

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A surprisingly nuanced lesson set in confidence-building, easy-to-decode text.

BO'S MAGICAL NEW FRIEND

From the Unicorn Diaries series , Vol. 1

A unicorn learns a friendship lesson in this chapter-book series opener.

Unicorn Bo has friends but longs for a “bestie.” Luckily, a new unicorn pops into existence (literally: Unicorns appear on especially starry nights) and joins Bo at the Sparklegrove School for Unicorns, where they study things like unicorn magic. Each unicorn has a special power; Bo’s is granting wishes. Not knowing what his own might be distresses new unicorn Sunny. When the week’s assignment is to earn a patch by using their unicorn powers to help someone, Bo hopes Sunny will wish to know Bo's power (enabling both unicorns to complete the task, and besides, Bo enjoys Sunny’s company and wants to help him). But when the words come out wrong, Sunny thinks Bo was feigning friendship to get to grant a wish and earn a patch, setting up a fairly sophisticated conflict. Bo makes things up to Sunny, and then—with the unicorns friends again and no longer trying to force their powers—arising circumstances enable them to earn their patches. The cheerful illustrations feature a sherbet palette, using patterns for texture; on busy pages with background colors similar to the characters’ color schemes, this combines with the absence of outlines to make discerning some individual characters a challenge. The format, familiar to readers of Elliott’s Owl Diaries series, uses large print and speech bubbles to keep pages to a manageable amount of text.

A surprisingly nuanced lesson set in confidence-building, easy-to-decode text. (Fantasy. 5-8)

Pub Date: Dec. 26, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-32332-0

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Sept. 29, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2019

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A delicious blend of the fanciful yet realistic.

GRUMPYCORN

A unicorn with writer’s block turns into a whole story.

Unicorn has every writer’s dream setup: a charming, cozy, isolated shack well stocked with writing supplies, friends to bring him snacks, and time to write. But he “didn’t know where to begin his story.” He assembles his special writing implements and beverages to boost his creative juices. But: “I wish an idea would come knocking at my door,” he says, and in riotously colored spreads, supportive sea creatures try to help. Narwhal asks to be a character, Mermaid brings him cookies as a bribe for a featured role, and Jellyfish bubbles over with ideas. But Unicorn refuses to see these as anything other than distractions, yelling “I can’t get ANY ideas because everyone keeps bothering me!” After he throws his notebook and special pen into the sea, his friends find the empty notebook and decide to fill it with their own story, relating everything that just happened in the preceding pages with themselves in starring roles. Each spread offers a wealth of details for readers to pore over, and the goofy sea creatures are fun and clever. Silent sea horses, trailing in the background, help bring the story to a satisfying conclusion in the endpapers. This hits just the right notes, engaging children, who will want to yell at the stubborn unicorn, and making any procrastinating adults chuckle in recognition.

A delicious blend of the fanciful yet realistic. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: July 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-338-61799-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2020

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