A triumphant story celebrating the ability of love, community, and cooperation to overcome any obstacle.

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IN A SMALL KINGDOM

In a small kingdom, a young heir ascends, a dastardly villain plots, and a magical robe saves the day.

When the king dies suddenly, the citizens of the titular kingdom worry for the future, as their deceased ruler had warded off thieves and bandits with the aid of a magical imperial robe. The people rejoice when the beloved king’s younger son is named the heir, but his older half brother vows to claim the throne for himself. He steals the robe, slices it to ribbons, and casts the pieces to the wind, certain that his younger brother cannot rule without the aid of magic. DePaola’s latest is both a charming fairy tale and a valuable lesson reminding readers that true strength comes from love rather than brute force. Salati’s arresting illustrations, filled with beautiful animal imagery, are like a Renaissance woven tapestry come to life. The illustrator makes expert use of the double-page spread to display the grandeur of the dead king, the otherworldly beauty of the blue and gold robe, and the charm of the townspeople who sew a new robe for their young ruler. The king’s counselors are a nice mélange of young and old men and women; the protagonist is biracial, and his half brother is white.

A triumphant story celebrating the ability of love, community, and cooperation to overcome any obstacle. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: April 3, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4814-9800-5

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Jan. 13, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2018

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Give this to the sparkle- and cupcake-obsessed child in your life

UNICORN DAY

Fabled equines party and play in a bright confection of a picture book.

“Hooray! Hooray! It’s Unicorn Day!” In galloping rhyming text that mostly scans, a community of chipper, bright-eyed unicorns obeys the three rules of Unicorn Day: “Show off your horn,” “Fluff up that hair,” and “Have fun, fun, fun!” They dance, frolic with butterflies, and of course eat cupcakes. But then they discover an interloper: A dun-colored quadruped, with a horn suspiciously attached with string, is outed as a horse. He mopes off, but the unicorns come running after—“they don’t want to lose a friend!”—and his horn is tied back on. With tension limited to a page turn, this very minor climax is resolved immediately. Then it’s back to the fun, as lots of other creatures (human children, a rainbow octopus, a Yeti, and more) join the unicorn parade with their own tied-on horns. Is this an allegory about straight people at pride parades? An argument that appropriation is OK sometimes? Should one read meaning into the identity of the only brown “unicorn”? Or is it just a zany, philosophy-free, sugar-fueled opposite-of-a-bedtime story? Regardless of subtext, conscious or otherwise, kiddie readers hungry for fluff will be drawn to the bright, energetic illustrations as to cotton candy.

Give this to the sparkle- and cupcake-obsessed child in your life . (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: June 4, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4926-6722-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2019

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Breaking the bounds of a traditional picture book, Iris’ creative growth elevates us all.

LIFT

Bridging the gap between picture book and graphic novel, this charmer catapults a simple storyline of sibling jealousy into outer space.

Iris, the older of two small children, always has the job of pushing the button on the elevator. “Up or down, our floor or the lobby, I always get to push the button.” One day, her toddler sibling reaches out and pushes the button before she can. Their parents’ joy over the smaller child’s new trick is pure betrayal to Iris. The baby has stolen her job, just like her stuffed tiger. Lê and Santat, creators of Asian/Pacific Award–winner Drawn Together (2018), have produced another inspired storyline fueled by emotions that come alive with magnetic illustrations. Dark frames around each scene keep the focus on Iris, a black-haired girl with expressive eyes that pierce through her messy bangs. (The whole family has black hair and pale skin.) Styled like a graphic novel’s, the illustrations focus on Iris’ feelings as she imagines a new elevator button, one that she can control, with the magical ability to transport her to other worlds. Frustration, invention, escape, wonder—all move across the pages with immediacy. Like Sendak’s Max, Iris uses anger to lift her away from the real world into jungles and outer space. And she returns to her room changed.

Breaking the bounds of a traditional picture book, Iris’ creative growth elevates us all. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: May 5, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-368-03692-4

Page Count: 56

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion/LBYR

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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