Likely to be an instant hobbyhorse for young lovers of equestrian magic.

HEARTSONG'S MISSING FOAL

Sisters venture into the secret Enchanted Realm to help a unicorn foal.

The Enchanted Realm is kept secret to protect unicorns from humans; only the Unicorn Guardians (always two little girls) have keys to the Magic Gate. The current guardians are sisters Iris and Ruby, who have newly inherited the keys from their mother and aunt. The sisters are excited for the first birth of a unicorn foal since they took over. But when the foal’s mother, Heartsong, doesn’t return from the Fairy Forest (where unicorns birth), the two must venture in to find out what’s wrong. Heartsong is trapped by maze weed, a magic plant that quickly becomes a leafy labyrinth around them. Luckily (if inexplicably), Heartsong’s foal is on the outside of the maze and helps them find their way (extremely easily) by creating magical stars, and thus is dubbed Starsong. Though Heartsong doesn’t want to leave the forest, she obeys the girls. The next day, Heartsong’s agitation to get back to the forest prompts the realization that she likely had twins, so the girls return to rescue the missing twin from mild but inventive peril. The magic is as kid friendly as the large type and short sentences. Picturesque settings and attractive equines populate the black-and-white illustrations, which depict the girls as white. The book’s strongest element is characterization: Younger Ruby’s bolder while responsible Iris must actively decide to face her fears and plan how to succeed. The next three series titles (Unicorn Uncovered, Stolen Magic, and The Red Key) publish simultaneously.

Likely to be an instant hobbyhorse for young lovers of equestrian magic. (Fantasy. 6-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-63163-391-1

Page Count: 72

Publisher: Jolly Fish Press

Review Posted Online: Oct. 9, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

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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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Lovely and evocative, just the thing to spark an interest in the original and its sequels—and the upcoming film sequel, Mary...

MARY POPPINS

Refined, spit-spot–tidy illustrations infuse a spare adaptation of the 1934 classic with proper senses of decorum and wonder.

Novesky leaves out much—the Bird Woman, Adm. Boom, that ethnically problematic world tour, even Mr. and Mrs. Banks—but there’s still plenty going on. Mary Poppins introduces Jane and Michael (their twin younger sibs are mentioned but seem to be left at home throughout) to the Match-Man and the buoyant Mr. Wigg, lets them watch Mrs. Corry and her daughters climb tall ladders to spangle the night sky with gilt stars, and takes them to meet the zoo animals (“Bird and beast, star and stone—we are all one,” says the philosophical bear). At last, when the wind changes, she leaves them with an “Au revoir!” (“Which means, Dear Reader, ‘to meet again.’ ”) Slender and correct, though with dangling forelocks that echo and suggest the sweeping curls of wind that bring her in and carry her away, Mary Poppins takes the role of impresario in Godbout’s theatrically composed scenes, bearing an enigmatic smile throughout but sharing with Jane and Michael (and even the parrot-headed umbrella) an expression of wide-eyed, alert interest as she shepherds them from one marvelous encounter to the next. The Corrys have brown skin; the rest of the cast presents white.

Lovely and evocative, just the thing to spark an interest in the original and its sequels—and the upcoming film sequel, Mary Poppins Returns, which opens in December 2018. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 23, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-328-91677-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: Sept. 17, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2018

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