A very welcome series revival.

SPRITE'S SECRET

From the Pixie Tricks series , Vol. 1

The early-aughts Pixie Tricks series, about using trickery to catch mischievous pixies, is back, lightly massaged, for a new generation of readers.

When her favorite marble is stolen by a toad, 8-year-old Violet Briggs’ pursuit leads her to an encounter with a fairy named Sprite. Sprite, a Royal Pixie Tricker, needs her help to find the 14 troublemaking fairies who escaped the Otherworld to make mayhem in Violet’s world. The first fairy they go after is fun-loving Pix, who makes even the most responsible adult abandon anything but the desire to play—forever! The ensuing chaos is delightfully funny, and Violet must use her brains to stop him. The fresh, friendly new illustrations of this edition factor heavily in the seamlessly child-centered book design. Besides breaking up the text with images (so as not to intimidate young readers with text blocks), the illustrations are thoughtfully placed to fit the exact moment they occur in the story, working exceptionally well when the art crosses a double-page spread. Just like the short chapters and simple vocabulary, the text blocks’ avoidance of hyphenated words at line ends or sentences that carry over to the next page keeps the book easily digestible for its emergent-reader audience. The inviting format and zany fun of the plot will leave readers excited for the next installment. Violet is White, and Sprite is green; human characters of color appear in the background.

A very welcome series revival. (questions and activities) (Fantasy. 6-9)

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-338-62778-7

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Sept. 29, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2020

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A brisk if bland offering for series fans, but cleverer metafictive romps abound.

HOW TO CATCH A GINGERBREAD MAN

From the How To Catch… series

The titular cookie runs off the page at a bookstore storytime, pursued by young listeners and literary characters.

Following on 13 previous How To Catch… escapades, Wallace supplies sometimes-tortured doggerel and Elkerton, a set of helter-skelter cartoon scenes. Here the insouciant narrator scampers through aisles, avoiding a series of elaborate snares set by the racially diverse young storytime audience with help from some classic figures: “Alice and her mad-hat friends, / as a gift for my unbirthday, / helped guide me through the walls of shelves— / now I’m bound to find my way.” The literary helpers don’t look like their conventional or Disney counterparts in the illustrations, but all are clearly identified by at least a broad hint or visual cue, like the unnamed “wizard” who swoops in on a broom to knock over a tower labeled “Frogwarts.” Along with playing a bit fast and loose with details (“Perhaps the boy with the magic beans / saved me with his cow…”) the author discards his original’s lip-smacking climax to have the errant snack circling back at last to his book for a comfier sort of happily-ever-after.

A brisk if bland offering for series fans, but cleverer metafictive romps abound. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 3, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-7282-0935-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Sourcebooks Wonderland

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2021

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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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