Unique characters and rich illustrations anchor a multifaceted but scattered story.

SKELETINA AND THE IN-BETWEEN WORLD

From the Skeletina and the In-Between World series

“The in-between world is the one place where the dead and the living come together,” and Skeletina is the mistress of that universe.

As the friendly, playful skeleton provides a tour of this space, which evokes the vibrant images of el Día de los Muertos, she explains that the living come here when they dream and describes several of its residents. Fludz, a smiling blue ocean wave, for example, helps children overcome their fear of water. Skeletina serves as a guide through dreams, helping with anxieties and warding off nightmares. Jaramillo’s artwork is captivating, with details, bold colors, and intricate use of delicate grays and blacks that result in an ethereal look. The endpapers preview inhabitants of the in-between world; however, confusingly, not all of them appear in the book, and some who are featured in the book are not included there. The story reads like wisdom from ghosts (“This is a strange place indeed, but always remember you get to decide what happens next!”) but also contains suggestions for pacifying spirits and taking control of dreams. While all of the pieces are connected, there isn’t a tight hold on the various threads. Most characters are nonhuman, though their world is infused with references to Latinx folklore; human characters are racially diverse. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Unique characters and rich illustrations anchor a multifaceted but scattered story. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: July 19, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-945635-46-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Roaring Brook Press

Review Posted Online: April 13, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2022

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A good choice to share with wriggly listeners, who will soon be joining in.

AT THE OLD HAUNTED HOUSE

A Halloween book that rides on the rhythms of “Over in the Meadow.”

Although Halloween rhyming counting books abound, this stands out, with a text that begs to be read aloud and cartoony digital illustrations that add goofy appeal. A girl and two boys set off on Halloween night to go trick-or-treating. As the children leave the cozy, warm glow of their street, readers see a haunted house on a hill, with gravestones dotting the front yard. Climbing the twisty path to the dark estate takes time, so the story turns to the antics inside the house. “At the old haunted house in a room with no sun / lived a warty green witch and her wee witch one. ‘SPELL!’ cried the witch. ‘POOF!’ cried the one. / And they both practiced spells in the room with no sun.” The actions of the scary creatures within may seem odd, but the rhyme must go on: Cats scratch, goblins dust, monsters stir, and mummies mix. Eventually the three kids reach the front door and are invited in for stew, cake and brew. At first shocked by the gruesome fare, the children recover quickly and get caught up in partying with the slightly spooky but friendly menagerie.

A good choice to share with wriggly listeners, who will soon be joining in. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Aug. 12, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4778-4769-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Two Lions

Review Posted Online: July 16, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2014

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Inspiring, adventurous fun for aspirational kids.

SADIE SPROCKET BUILDS A ROCKET

A little girl’s imaginative plan to become an astronaut and be the first to travel to Mars really takes off.

Together with a crew of stuffed animals (owl, rabbit, and teddy bear), Sadie Sprocket does her research, gathers materials to build her spaceship, and, with support from family and friends—and media coverage—embarks on her historic journey. Rhyming quatrains tell the story of how Sadie patiently reads, cooks, and records important data during the 100-day interplanetary journey. And then: “The Earth behind, so far away, / was now a tiny dot. / Then Sadie cried, ‘There’s planet Mars! / It’s smaller than I thought!’ ” After landing and gathering 20 bags of samples, Sadie and crew are stuck in a red sandstorm while trying to take off again. But with Sadie’s determination and can-do spirit, they blast off, safely returning to Earth with future heroic space-exploration ideas in mind. Spiky cartoons transform a child’s playroom into an outer-space venue, complete with twinkling stars and colorful planets. Sadie presents White while her encouraging fans feature more diversity. An addendum includes brief facts about Mars and a handful of women space scientists. (This book was reviewed digitally with 11-by-17-inch double-page spreads viewed at 50% of actual size.)

Inspiring, adventurous fun for aspirational kids. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5420-1803-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Two Lions

Review Posted Online: Nov. 18, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

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