For story lovers and storytellers.


From the Polly Diamond series , Vol. 2

Polly and Spell return to shake up the school book fair after series opener Polly Diamond and the Magic Book (2018).

Polly Diamond’s day is going to be spectacular: Today is the school fair, and it’s all about books. The mixed-race girl’s love of books and words has only grown since her magic book, Spell, appeared, and the pair have had several adventures, playing with words and stories as everything that Polly writes in Spell comes true. At school, what starts as one idea to make up for the broken popcorn machine soon becomes a game of punny attractions as a Pop-Open-A-Book-Corn stall, a Title-Tastic-Photo Booth, a Read-A-Coaster, and much more spill from Polly’s imagination to Spell’s pages and out over the fair. The fair is a massive hit, but after a magic carpet ride and turning a friend into a dragon (and her annoying babysitter into a squirrel), Polly realizes she has lost Spell. Alas, retracing her steps is not as simple as vanquishing a puddle monster. This second installment is full to the brim with the fun and tricky flexibility of language, which drives the small tempest of plot. Potential new vocabulary is called out with italics and defined, though clarity is hampered somewhat by the use of italics for emphasis with other words as well. Nevertheless, Toledano’s spot art continues to add another dimension to Polly and Spell’s world, giving less-experienced readers extra context clues and establishing Polly’s dad as white and her mom as a woman of color.

For story lovers and storytellers. (list of books mentioned) (Fantasy. 5-8)

Pub Date: May 7, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4521-5233-2

Page Count: 112

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2019

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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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A close encounter of the best kind.


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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