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

READ REVIEW

THE GREAT GRANNY CAKE CONTEST!

From the Hubble Bubble series , Vol. 2

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/Candlewick

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2017

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A close encounter of the best kind.

FIELD TRIP TO THE MOON

Left behind when the space bus departs, a child discovers that the moon isn’t as lifeless as it looks.

While the rest of the space-suited class follows the teacher like ducklings, one laggard carrying crayons and a sketchbook sits down to draw our home planet floating overhead, falls asleep, and wakes to see the bus zooming off. The bright yellow bus, the gaggle of playful field-trippers, and even the dull gray boulders strewn over the equally dull gray lunar surface have a rounded solidity suggestive of Plasticine models in Hare’s wordless but cinematic scenes…as do the rubbery, one-eyed, dull gray creatures (think: those stress-busting dolls with ears that pop out when squeezed) that emerge from the regolith. The mutual shock lasts but a moment before the lunarians eagerly grab the proffered crayons to brighten the bland gray setting with silly designs. The creatures dive into the dust when the bus swoops back down but pop up to exchange goodbye waves with the errant child, who turns out to be an olive-skinned kid with a mop of brown hair last seen drawing one of their new friends with the one crayon—gray, of course—left in the box. Body language is expressive enough in this debut outing to make a verbal narrative superfluous.

A close encounter of the best kind. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: May 14, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-8234-4253-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Margaret Ferguson/Holiday House

Review Posted Online: Feb. 6, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2019

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Patchy work, both visually and teleologically.

YOU'RE HERE FOR A REASON

The sultana of high-fructose sentimentality reminds readers that they really are all that.

Despite the title, we’re actually here for a couple of reasons. In fulsome if vague language Tillman embeds one message, that acts of kindness “may triple for days… / or set things in motion in different ways,” in a conceptually separate proposition that she summarizes thus: “perhaps you forgot— / a piece of the world that is precious and dear / would surely be missing if you weren’t here.” Her illustrations elaborate on both themes in equally abstract terms: a lad releases a red kite that ends up a sled for fox kits, while its ribbons add decorative touches to bird nests and a moose before finally being vigorously twirled by a girl and (startlingly) a pair of rearing tigers. Without transition the focus then shifts as the kite is abruptly replaced by a red ball. Both embodied metaphors, plus children and animals, gather at the end for a closing circle dance. The illustrator lavishes attention throughout on figures of children and wild animals, which are depicted with such microscopically precise realism that every fine hair and feather is visible, but she then floats them slightly above hazy, generic backdrops. The overall design likewise has a slapdash feel, as some spreads look relatively crowded with verses while others bear only a single line or phrase.

Patchy work, both visually and teleologically. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-250-05626-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Review Posted Online: June 23, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2015

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