An often satisfying novel for young readers that hits most of the right notes.

READ REVIEW

Fairalon

An effervescent middle-grade fantasy story about accepting oneself and others.

Eleven-year-old Iris has been through a lot. Her mother died when she was 6, which is when her “behaviors” began; she has a compulsive need to repeat actions three times, particularly when she’s stressed out, and the kids at school are merciless about it. Therapy and medication help her compulsion, but nothing stops her from apparently seeing things that aren’t there. When she sees a boy on a swing disappear into thin air, she wonders whether she’s losing her mind—or if the old swing could really be a portal to another world. Roberts’ debut novel adeptly conveys the language, frustrations, and spirit of a preteen girl with sensitivity and humor. However, the story builds slowly, particularly in its first part, which tends toward too much foreshadowing and explanation. After Iris enters Fairalon, almost halfway through the book, the adventure gets underway with Wonderland-worthy characters, including ninja fairies, Bebb the Butterfly Boy, and riddle-obsessed mountains. These creatures pass along subtle messages about self-acceptance: “You are normal for you; you are just different from the others.” Roberts emphasizes empathy by making “bad” characters behave sympathetically, and having “good” ones be tempted by the lure of power. However, many inner monologues are unnecessary and slow down the plot. Clunky illustrations also distract from the vibrant prose descriptions and occasionally spoil surprises. By the final chapters, however, everything clicks in a page-turning climax. Interestingly, Iris’ coping mechanisms don’t magically disappear during or after her adventures; instead, she gains an appreciation for her strengths and her flaws, and her new friends accept her for who she is, purple hair and all—with the book’s conclusion giving hints of a sequel.

An often satisfying novel for young readers that hits most of the right notes.

Pub Date: Nov. 27, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-9970071-0-7

Page Count: 271

Publisher: Fairalon Books

Review Posted Online: Jan. 29, 2016

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Playful, engaging, and full of opportunities for empathy—a raucous storytime hit.

THERE'S A MONSTER IN YOUR BOOK

From the There’s a…in Your Book series

Readers try to dislodge a monster from the pages of this emotive and interactive read-aloud.

“OH NO!” the story starts. “There’s a monster in your book!” The blue, round-headed monster with pink horns and a pink-tipped tail can be seen cheerfully munching on the opening page. “Let’s try to get him out,” declares the narrator. Readers are encouraged to shake, tilt, and spin the book around, while the monster careens around an empty background looking scared and lost. Viewers are exhorted to tickle the monster’s feet, blow on the page, and make a really loud noise. Finally, shockingly, it works: “Now he’s in your room!” But clearly a monster in your book is safer than a monster in your room, so he’s coaxed back into the illustrations and lulled to sleep, curled up under one page and cuddling a bit of another like a child with their blankie. The monster’s entirely cute appearance and clear emotional reactions to his treatment add to the interactive aspect, and some young readers might even resist the instructions to avoid hurting their new pal. Children will be brought along on the monster’s journey, going from excited, noisy, and wiggly to calm and steady (one can hope).

Playful, engaging, and full of opportunities for empathy—a raucous storytime hit. (Picture book. 2-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-5247-6456-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: June 5, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2017

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The book is perfect for read-alouds, with occasional, often onomatopoeic Spanish words such as “quiquiriquí,” “tacatac” and...

WAITING FOR THE BIBLIOBURRO

Inspired by Colombian librarian Luis Soriano Bohórquez, Brown’s latest tells of a little girl whose wish comes true when a librarian and two book-laden burros visit her remote village.

Ana loves to read and spends all of her free time either reading alone or to her younger brother. She knows every word of the one book she owns. Although she uses her imagination to create fantastical bedtime tales for her brother, she really wants new books to read. Everything changes when a traveling librarian and his two donkeys, Alfa and Beto, arrive in the village. Besides loaning books to the children until his next visit, the unnamed man also reads them stories and teaches the younger children the alphabet. When Ana suggests that someone write a book about the traveling library, he encourages her to complete this task herself. After she reads her library books, Ana writes her own story for the librarian and gives it to him upon his reappearance—and he makes it part of his biblioburro collection. Parra’s colorful folk-style illustrations of acrylics on board bring Ana’s real and imaginary worlds to life. This is a child-centered complement to Jeanette Winter’s Biblioburro (2010), which focuses on Soriano.

The book is perfect for read-alouds, with occasional, often onomatopoeic Spanish words such as “quiquiriquí,” “tacatac” and “iii-aah” adding to the fun.   (author’s note, glossary of Spanish terms) (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: July 12, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-58246-353-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Tricycle

Review Posted Online: June 6, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2011

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