An exciting ride that unfortunately runs out of steam on the last lap.

THE PRINCESS AND THE PIT STOP

A race car–driving princess has something to prove when taking a pit stop leaves her in last place with just one lap to go.

While her capable crew of magical creatures gets her ready, the Princess hears her position and reddens with fiery ambition. She zooms ferociously around the track, leaving a rainbow trail of exhaust in her wake. As a track-announcer frog calls out the pun-laced action, the Princess speeds by her famous opponents, recognizable from fairy tales, children’s classics, and nursery rhymes. This princess is a force to be reckoned with. She’s not afraid of a little rough-and-tumble in the pursuit of victory. After crossing the finish line she celebrates by spinning doughnuts, posing for pictures while covered in grime, and happily accepting an endorsement deal. The full-page illustrations are saturated with color and express the action so vividly readers will nearly hear the roar of the racetrack. The emphasis on the Princess’ racing skill and zeal for her sport is empowering and refreshing, which is what makes the end spread all the more disappointing. At her victory party, readers finally get to hear the Princess speak for the only time in the entire book. “C’mon Prince! We’ve got a dance contest to win!” What a crash and burn. The Princess has light-brown skin and black hair.

An exciting ride that unfortunately runs out of steam on the last lap. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: July 10, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4197-2848-8

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: April 16, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2018

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A quiet, thought-provoking story of environmental change and the power humans have to slow it.

THE OLD BOAT

A multigenerational tale of a boat’s life with a Black family, written by two brothers who loved similar boats.

In the opening spread, a smiling, brown-skinned adult dangles a line from the back of a green-and-white boat while a boy peers eagerly over the side at the sea life. The text never describes years passing, but each page turn reveals the boy’s aging, more urban development on the shore, increasing water pollution, marine-life changes (sea jellies abound on one page), and shifting water levels. Eventually, the boy, now a teenager, steers the boat, and as an adult, he fishes alone but must go farther and farther out to sea to make his catch. One day, the man loses his way, capsizes in a storm, and washes up on a small bay island, with the overturned, sunken boat just offshore. Now a “new sailor” cleans up the land and water with others’ help. The physical similarities between the shipwrecked sailor and the “new sailor” suggest that this is not a new person but one whose near-death experience has led to an epiphany that changes his relationship to water. As the decaying boat becomes a new marine habitat, the sailor teaches the next generation (a child with hair in two Afro puffs) to fish. Focusing primarily on the sea, the book’s earth-toned illustrations, created with hundreds of stamps, carry the compelling plot.

A quiet, thought-provoking story of environmental change and the power humans have to slow it. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-324-00517-9

Page Count: 56

Publisher: Norton Young Readers

Review Posted Online: Dec. 25, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2021

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Visual fun overrides textual inadequacies, making this an enjoyable read with an inarguably valuable message.

ELBOW GREASE

If it first you don’t succeed, try getting hit by lightning.

The smallest of his four brothers, Elbow Grease is an electric-powered monster truck with big dreams. Each one of his brothers is tougher, faster, smarter, or braver than he is, but at least he’s got enough “gumption” to spare. That comes in handy when he rushes off to join a Grand Prix in a fit of pique. And while in the end he doesn’t win, he does at least finish thanks to a conveniently placed lightning bolt. That inspires the true winner of the race (Elbow Grease’s hero, Big Wheels McGee) to declare that it’s gumption that’s the true mark of a winner. With his emphasis on trying new things, even if you fail, Cena, a professional wrestler and celebrity, earnestly offers a legitimately inspiring message even if his writing borders on the pedestrian. Fortunately McWilliam’s illustrations give a great deal of life, emotion, action, and mud splatters to the middling text. Humans are few and far between, but the trucks’ keeper, Mel the mechanic, is pictured as a brown-skinned woman with glasses.

Visual fun overrides textual inadequacies, making this an enjoyable read with an inarguably valuable message. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 9, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5247-7350-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: July 24, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2018

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