A thoughtful, insightful character study that gently urges young readers to choose joy.

MADAM HORTENSIA

Hortensia is content with her perfectly ordered life.

Daisies grow in a straight line; paintings hang at the correct height. Her alarm clock rings at exactly the same time each morning, and she eats the same carefully measured breakfast. The dog, aptly named Starchy, is walked for the same duration and distance daily. Same bus, same seat, same number of birds fed at the park, same radio program at the same time, and bedtime at exactly the right moment. She has no desire for anything to change. But one morning her alarm clock rings 14 minutes late and sets off a series of considerably disturbing changes. She eats a quick breakfast and finds it delicious. Starchy makes a friend on his shorter walk. She misses her bus, rents a bike, and enjoys the ride. She finds herself noticing and loving the beauty around her and opening her heart to change and joy. Losing nothing in translation, the text in this Spanish import maintains a stiffness of language that perfectly reflects Hortensia’s rigidity, with later syntax becoming more expansive as she opens up to new experiences. Cerro illustrates her world with intense color, and his portraits of her undergo subtle changes. The glasses are still perched at the edge of her nose, but she moves a bit more easily; her expressions soften, and her lips curve in the slightest of smiles as she now sees a world that features infinite possibilities.

A thoughtful, insightful character study that gently urges young readers to choose joy. (Picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: March 15, 2021

ISBN: 978-84-18302-13-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Cuento de Luz

Review Posted Online: Jan. 27, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2021

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

CLAYMATES

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.

SNOW PLACE LIKE HOME

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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