Next book


From the Hubble Bubble series , Vol. 2

This accessible series should lead young readers to the groaning shelves of middle-grade fantasy that await

Pandora and her granny return in a new set of stories about witches who cannot refrain from using magic.

In “The Ghosts of Creakington Hall,” the chapter book’s first story, Pandora, a white, English, half-witch, half-human child, is being punished for casting spells. (She and her granny had “magicked the three little pigs out of their fairy-tale book.”) No brooms or wands are allowed on the family visit to an estate, but Granny can’t last long without fun and witchcraft. The title story involves three granny witches with their helpers, Pandora, “meanie Merlin,” and “snooty Opal” (both also white). The witches participate in a TV baking contest, but they are told: “NO MAGIC ALLOWED!” The three grannies cannot help themselves; the taping erupts into a magic-fueled food fight. The angry producer dismisses them, but the viewers can’t get enough. In the last story, Pandora’s school is disqualified from a gardening competition because Granny creates some gigantic carrots. Black ink and gray wash drawings on every page are full of humor, but there’s little sign of diversity, save for Chef Edwardo and a student, the only evident characters of color. Light doses of innocent sorcery, a loving relationship between a grandmother and her granddaughter, and some occasional British slang (“tickity-boo”) add up to a funny introduction to the magic arts.

This accessible series should lead young readers to the groaning shelves of middle-grade fantasy that await . (Fantasy. 6-8)

Pub Date: June 13, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-7636-9503-3

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Nosy Crow

Review Posted Online: March 14, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2017

Next book


Cuándo quieras un perro feliz, look no further.

A young Latine boy finally gets to rescue the dog of his dreams, but training can be a challenge in two languages.

Like many children, José has been dreaming of having a pet of his own, specifically un perro, a dog. Like any good owner, José promptly begins training his new canine companion but soon realizes his rescue mutt, Feliz, knows only words in English. This is a problem because in José’s home everyone speaks both Spanish and English. José and Feliz must rise to the challenge; fortunately, treats and snuggles are great motivators. The narrative uses Spanish words and phrases throughout (“perros blancos,” “¡Yo quiero este!” “¡Sientate!”), usually with English context clues for understanding. This is complex vocabulary for an early reader, and the shifting in phonics from English to Spanish will be challenging for true beginners; the book is best suited for intermediate to advanced readers in dual-language classrooms or homes. Much like Feliz, however, it is sure to find a loving (and bilingual) home. Cheerful illustrations complement the text, helping readers make sense of the narrative. While José and his mother are darker-skinned, his father and sister are lighter-skinned. (This review has been updated for accuracy.)

Cuándo quieras un perro feliz, look no further. (glossary of Spanish-English words) (Early reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: April 25, 2023

ISBN: 978-0-593-52116-8

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Penguin Workshop

Review Posted Online: Jan. 11, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2023

Next book


An effective early chapter book conveyed in a slightly overdone gag.

Epistolary dispatches from the eternal canine/feline feud.

Simon the cat is angry. He had done a good job taking care of his boy, Andy, but now that Andy’s parents are divorced, a dog named Baxter has moved into Andy’s dad’s house. Simon believes that there isn’t enough room in Andy’s life for two furry friends, so he uses the power of the pen to get Baxter to move out. Inventively for the early-chapter-book format, the story is told in letters written back and forth; Simon’s are impeccably spelled on personalized stationery while Baxter’s spelling slowly improves through the letters he scrawls on scraps of paper. A few other animals make appearances—a puffy-lipped goldfish who for some reason punctuates her letter with “Blub…blub…” seems to be the only female character (cued through stereotypical use of eyelashes and red lipstick), and a mustachioed snail ferries the mail to and fro. White-appearing Andy is seen playing with both animals as a visual background to the text, as is his friend Noah (a dark-skinned child who perhaps should not be nicknamed “N Man”). Cat lovers will appreciate Simon’s prickliness while dog aficionados will likely enjoy Baxter’s obtuse enthusiasm, and all readers will learn about the time and patience it takes to overcome conflict and jealousy with someone you dislike.

An effective early chapter book conveyed in a slightly overdone gag. (Fiction. 6-8)

Pub Date: May 12, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-8234-4492-2

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: Jan. 20, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

Close Quickview