A silly, inspiring story of a princess who makes her scientific dreams come true.

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THE PRINCESS AND THE PETRI DISH

After numerous setbacks, Princess Pippa achieves her dream of becoming a groundbreaking scientist and inventor.

Even though she lives in a castle, Princess Pippa is not interested in becoming just another curtsying royal. Instead, she spends hours in her laboratory, dreaming of making discoveries that will win her prizes. Lofty ambitions notwithstanding, the majority of Pippa’s chemical forays have been disastrous: In the past, she’s invented brittle bubble gum, soap that turns fingers blue, and bad-smelling mouthwash. Finally, one night at dinner, inspiration strikes. After much experimentation—using a pea, a cocoa bean, and the titular petri dish—Pippa creates peas that tastes like chocolate, so tasty that everyone in the entire kingdom takes to sprinkling them on all of their food at every meal. But just when Pippa is about to celebrate, the pea vines grow faster and faster, spreading beyond the castle walls. Pippa’s scientific prowess is put to the test one more time, when she must invent something to slow down the plants’ growth—and still preserve the delicious peas the kingdom has come to love. Fleiss’ lilting, rhyming abcb verse is a delight to read, and Pippa’s quirky perseverance stands as an endearing example for young budding scientists of all genders. Bouloubasis’ fantastical illustrations are vibrant with movement, color, and detail, but few characters in this kingdom are diverse. The royal family is white.

A silly, inspiring story of a princess who makes her scientific dreams come true. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: April 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-8075-6644-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Whitman

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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Whimsy, intelligence, and a subtle narrative thread make this rise to the top of a growing list of self-love titles.

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YOU MATTER

Employing a cast of diverse children reminiscent of that depicted in Another (2019), Robinson shows that every living entity has value.

After opening endpapers that depict an aerial view of a busy playground, the perspective shifts to a black child, ponytails tied with beaded elastics, peering into a microscope. So begins an exercise in perspective. From those bits of green life under the lens readers move to “Those who swim with the tide / and those who don’t.” They observe a “pest”—a mosquito biting a dinosaur, a “really gassy” planet, and a dog whose walker—a child in a pink hijab—has lost hold of the leash. Periodically, the examples are validated with the titular refrain. Textured paint strokes and collage elements contrast with uncluttered backgrounds that move from white to black to white. The black pages in the middle portion foreground scenes in space, including a black astronaut viewing Earth; the astronaut is holding an image of another black youngster who appears on the next spread flying a toy rocket and looking lonely. There are many such visual connections, creating emotional interest and invitations for conversation. The story’s conclusion spins full circle, repeating opening sentences with new scenarios. From the microscopic to the cosmic, word and image illuminate the message without a whiff of didacticism.

Whimsy, intelligence, and a subtle narrative thread make this rise to the top of a growing list of self-love titles. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5344-2169-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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It’s gratifying to see Lola’s love of books leading her to new experiences.

LOLA PLANTS A GARDEN

From the Lola & Leo series

Hoping to have a garden like the one in her poetry book, Lola plants seeds, waits and weeds, and finally celebrates with friends.

The author and illustrator of Lola Loves Stories (2010) and its companion titles take their appealing character outside. Inspired by her favorite poem, the nursery rhyme “Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary” (repeated on the front endpapers), Lola chooses her favorite flowers from library books. Helped by her parents, she grows a grandly diverse flower garden, just right for a celebration with peas and strawberries from the family plot. Beardshaw’s acrylic illustrations show her garden in all its stages. They also show the copper-toned preschooler reading on her mother’s lap, making a flower book, a beaded string with bells and shells, a little Mary Mary doll and cupcakes for the celebration. Her bunchy ponytails are redone, and her flower shirt is perfect for the party. Not only has she provided the setting; she makes up a story for her friends. The simple sentences of the text and charming pictures make this a good choice for reading aloud or early reading alone. On the rear endpapers, the nursery rhyme has been adapted to celebrate “Lola, Lola, Extraordinary.”

It’s gratifying to see Lola’s love of books leading her to new experiences. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Aug. 5, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-58089-694-8

Page Count: 28

Publisher: Charlesbridge

Review Posted Online: June 10, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2014

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