This friendship tale doesn’t shine.

READ REVIEW

THE NIGHT THE STARS WENT OUT

All work and no play does more than make Alien a dull guy.

Alien’s job is to shine stars, and that’s all he does—no play, no hobbies, no fun, no friends. That is, until the day when the stars go out completely. Alien follows his manual, but the stars are still dark, so he calls the Star Helpline. They suggest a magic star varnish sold only on faraway Earth. Off Alien goes. But he’s going to need lots of help—where to find the varnish?—and to add to his problems, aliens float on Earth. Luckily, a young white, blond boy named George and his dog happen along to lend a hand. After getting so much help from George, it would seem rude to refuse his invitation to play despite how dire Alien’s problem is. But perhaps play—and a friend—is just what Alien needs after all. Readers never really feel Alien’s tension, as the book seemingly flits from one problem to the next, each easily solved quite serendipitously. Hughes’ illustrations, which appear to be digital, show Alien as a rounded blue cylinder with ink arms, legs, ears, and antennae and a darker blue nose that begins at the top of his head and looks like an upside-down T. Inexplicably, the duo’s having fun on the playground in daytime, until Alien’s smile triggers the stars’ shining, and all of a sudden, it’s night.

This friendship tale doesn’t shine. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-62370-745-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Capstone Young Readers

Review Posted Online: July 20, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2016

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A chuckle-inducing, entirely worthy stand-alone follow-up to the terrific The Princess in Black (2014).

THE PRINCESS IN BLACK AND THE PERFECT PRINCESS PARTY

From the Princess in Black series , Vol. 2

Princess Magnolia’s perfect birthday party’s threatened by constant monster alarms, summoning her secret identity again and again.

Prim, proper Princess Magnolia is all decked out in her pink finery, awaiting the arrival of a dozen ethnically diverse fellow-princess party guests for her birthday when her monster-alarm ring goes off. She changes attire and personas, becoming the heroic Princess in Black. Working swiftly, she saves a goat from a hungry monster and gets back to her palace in time to welcome her guests. But just when she thinks she’s in the clear and ready to open her presents, off goes her monster-alarm ring again! This pattern—Magnolia is just about to open presents when her alarm goes off, she comes up with a distraction for the princesses, defeats a monster, and returns just in time—continues through the book. It’s enhanced by visual gags, such as Magnolia’s increasingly flustered appearance, and hilarious depictions of the various ways monsters try to eat goats, from between giant pieces of bread to in a giant ice cream cone. A side character, the fittingly named Princess Sneezewort, frequently comes close to discovering Magnolia’s secret. In the end, Magnolia can’t take the constant interruptions anymore, yelling at a monster that it’s her birthday—the monster, abashed, ends up helping her in one last distraction for the other princesses.

A chuckle-inducing, entirely worthy stand-alone follow-up to the terrific The Princess in Black (2014). (Fantasy. 5-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 13, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-7636-6511-1

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: June 29, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2015

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While not exactly novel, it’s well-executed and very funny.

THE PRINCESS IN BLACK AND THE HUNGRY BUNNY HORDE

From the Princess in Black series , Vol. 3

The Princess in Black’s cutest adventure yet—no, really, the monsters are deceptively cute.

While Princess Magnolia and unicorn Frimplepants are on their way to a much anticipated brunch with Princess Sneezewort, Magnolia’s monster alarm goes off, forcing an emergency costume change on her and Frimplepants to become the Princess in Black and her faithful steed, Blacky. They rush to rescue goat boy Duff, hoping to save the day in time for doughnuts. However, when they arrive, instead of monsters they see a field full of adorable bunnies. Pham’s illustrations give the bunnies wide-eyed innocence and little puffballs on the tips of their ears. Duff tries to explain that they’re menaces from Monster Land that eat everything (all the grass, a tree, a goat’s horn…), but the Princess has trouble imagining that monsters might come in such a cute package. By the time she does, there are too many to fight! Humor comes from the juxtaposed danger and adorableness. Just when the bunnies decide to eat the Princess, Blacky—who, as Frimplepants, is fluent in Cuteness—communicates that she’s not food and persuades the bunnies to return to Monster Land. While Princess Magnolia and Frimplepants are too late for brunch, Princess Sneezewort gets the consolation prize of lunch with the Princess in Black and Blacky.

While not exactly novel, it’s well-executed and very funny. (Fantasy. 5-7)

Pub Date: Feb. 9, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-7636-6513-5

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Nov. 3, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2015

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