A fluffy, cute early chapter-book series for strong readers.

THE NEW CLASS

From the Ballet Bunnies series , Vol. 1

Ballet class becomes a little bit easier with the help of the Ballet Bunnies in this new early chapter-book series.

Millie is delighted when her mother surprises her with ballet lessons for her sixth birthday. But after her first disastrous lesson Millie feels like a failure. That’s when she meets the four tiny, talking Ballet Bunnies who secretly live in the ballet studio. With encouragement from the bunnies and a welcoming new human friend, Millie finds the courage to keep dancing. The linear narration uses a wide vocabulary, suiting this title to strong transitioning readers rather than those still honing their foundational decoding skills. The predictable plot frames Millie’s struggle as a consequence of being a ballet newbie and having to deal with a mean classmate, completely avoiding the ballet teacher’s incompetence as perhaps the main contributor to Millie’s difficulties. The cheery pastel illustrations provide context as the story unfolds, although the characters, human and bunny alike, suffer from a shortage of expression and personality. The concluding glossary lacks a pronunciation guide for the French ballet terms, many of which are not actually used in the narrative text. Millie and her mother are depicted with black hair and light brown skin. The ballet teacher and most of Millie’s classmates have pale skin and various hair colors with the exception of Millie’s new friend, Samira, who has pink hair and light brown skin.

A fluffy, cute early chapter-book series for strong readers. (Fantasy. 7-9)

Pub Date: March 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-30492-1

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Dec. 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2021

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A welcome, well-researched reflection of cultural pride in the early-reader landscape.

RAFI AND ROSI MUSIC!

From the Rafi and Rosi series

The fourth installment in Delacre’s early-reader series centers on the rich musical traditions of Puerto Rico, once again featuring sibling tree frogs Rafi and Rosi Coquí.

Readers learn along with Rafi and Rosi as they explore bomba, plena, and salsa in three chapters. A glossary at the beginning sets readers up well to understand the Spanish vocabulary, including accurate phoneticization for non-Spanish speakers. The stories focus on Rafi and Rosi’s relationship within a musical context. For example, in one chapter Rafi finds out that he attracts a larger audience playing his homemade güiro with Rosi’s help even though he initially excluded her: “Big brothers only.” Even when he makes mistakes, as the older brother, Rafi consoles Rosi when she is embarrassed or angry at him. In each instance, their shared joy for music and dance ultimately shines through any upsets—a valuable reflection of unity. Informational backmatter and author’s sources are extensive. Undoubtedly these will help teachers, librarians, and parents to develop Puerto Rican cultural programs, curriculum, or home activities to extend young readers’ learning. The inclusion of instructions to make one’s own homemade güiro is a thoughtful addition. The Spanish translation, also by Delacre and published simultaneously, will require a more advanced reader than the English one to recognize and comprehend contractions (“pa’bajo-pa-pa’rriba”) and relatively sophisticated vocabulary.

A welcome, well-researched reflection of cultural pride in the early-reader landscape. (Early reader. 7-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 17, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-89239-429-6

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Children's Book Press

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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A nifty high-seas caper for chapter-book readers with a love of adventure and a yearning for treasure.

THE PIRATE PIG

It’s not truffles but doubloons that tickle this porcine wayfarer’s fancy.

Funke and Meyer make another foray into chapter-book fare after Emma and the Blue Genie (2014). Here, mariner Stout Sam and deckhand Pip eke out a comfortable existence on Butterfly Island ferrying cargo to and fro. Life is good, but it takes an unexpected turn when a barrel washes ashore containing a pig with a skull-and-crossbones pendant around her neck. It soon becomes clear that this little piggy, dubbed Julie, has the ability to sniff out treasure—lots of it—in the sea. The duo is pleased with her skills, but pride goeth before the hog. Stout Sam hands out some baubles to the local children, and his largess attracts the unwanted attention of Barracuda Bill and his nasty minions. Now they’ve pignapped Julie, and it’s up to the intrepid sailors to save the porker and their own bacon. The succinct word count meets the needs of kids looking for early adventure fare. The tale is slight, bouncy, and amusing, though Julie is never the piratical buccaneer the book’s cover seems to suggest. Meanwhile, Meyer’s cheery watercolors are as comfortable diagramming the different parts of a pirate vessel as they are rendering the dread pirate captain himself.

A nifty high-seas caper for chapter-book readers with a love of adventure and a yearning for treasure. (Adventure. 7-9)

Pub Date: June 23, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-37544-3

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2015

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