An environmental message that goes down easily amid the cartoony cast.


In this tale told entirely in dialogue, most along the lines of “See you later, Alligator,” Miles and Spike pay a visit to the woods, to the consternation of the animals that live there.

The two buddies, anthropomorphic dogs wearing boots and toting a blue backpack, seem to have come just to pillage the forest of its resources: wood, flowers, corn (an odd find in the woods), worms, and blueberries. With each new item, the backpack bulges a little more, and Miles and Spike leave in their wake a host of angry critters, their tossed-off, la-dee-da comments only adding fuel to the fire: “Ta-ta for now, COW!” “Peace out, RAINBOW TROUT!” The two dogs and the animal(s) they are speaking to are depicted in full color, while brilliantly colored monochromatic backgrounds allow Long to show the previously ticked-off animals and the devastation left behind (readers will expect the Lorax to pop out at any moment). Finally, Miles and Spike are unable to hoist the backpack and, thirsty from the tussle, go to fill up their canteens. They demand “Clear the water, OTTER!”—and the angry animals band together to deliver the titular message. The empty landscape speaks volumes, and the two admit “We acted dumb, chum.” They try again, unpacking the backpack and inviting the animals to accompany them to a new patch of forest (the trout is carried in a fishbowl), where they share their bounty, smiles and friendship replacing angry glares.

An environmental message that goes down easily amid the cartoony cast. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 14, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4521-6471-7

Page Count: 44

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: May 28, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2018

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The dynamic interaction between the characters invites readers to take risks, push boundaries, and have a little unscripted...


Reinvention is the name of the game for two blobs of clay.

A blue-eyed gray blob and a brown-eyed brown blob sit side by side, unsure as to what’s going to happen next. The gray anticipates an adventure, while the brown appears apprehensive. A pair of hands descends, and soon, amid a flurry of squishing and prodding and poking and sculpting, a handsome gray wolf and a stately brown owl emerge. The hands disappear, leaving the friends to their own devices. The owl is pleased, but the wolf convinces it that the best is yet to come. An ear pulled here and an extra eye placed there, and before you can shake a carving stick, a spurt of frenetic self-exploration—expressed as a tangled black scribble—reveals a succession of smug hybrid beasts. After all, the opportunity to become a “pig-e-phant” doesn’t come around every day. But the sound of approaching footsteps panics the pair of Picassos. How are they going to “fix [them]selves” on time? Soon a hippopotamus and peacock are staring bug-eyed at a returning pair of astonished hands. The creative naiveté of the “clay mates” is perfectly captured by Petty’s feisty, spot-on dialogue: “This was your idea…and it was a BAD one.” Eldridge’s endearing sculpted images are photographed against the stark white background of an artist’s work table to great effect.

The dynamic interaction between the characters invites readers to take risks, push boundaries, and have a little unscripted fun of their own . (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: June 20, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-316-30311-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2017

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A jam-packed opener sure to satisfy lovers of the princess genre.


From the Diary of an Ice Princess series

Ice princess Lina must navigate family and school in this early chapter read.

The family picnic is today. This is not a typical gathering, since Lina’s maternal relatives are a royal family of Windtamers who have power over the weather and live in castles floating on clouds. Lina herself is mixed race, with black hair and a tan complexion like her Asian-presenting mother’s; her Groundling father appears to be a white human. While making a grand entrance at the castle of her grandfather, the North Wind, she fails to successfully ride a gust of wind and crashes in front of her entire family. This prompts her stern grandfather to ask that Lina move in with him so he can teach her to control her powers. Desperate to avoid this, Lina and her friend Claudia, who is black, get Lina accepted at the Hilltop Science and Arts Academy. Lina’s parents allow her to go as long as she does lessons with grandpa on Saturdays. However, fitting in at a Groundling school is rough, especially when your powers start freak winter storms! With the story unfurling in diary format, bright-pink–highlighted grayscale illustrations help move the plot along. There are slight gaps in the storytelling and the pacing is occasionally uneven, but Lina is full of spunk and promotes self-acceptance.

A jam-packed opener sure to satisfy lovers of the princess genre. (Fantasy. 5-8)

Pub Date: June 25, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-35393-8

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: March 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2019

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