Another bullying book that resolves with the bullies’ targets proving their usefulness. Skip.

DRAGONS FROM MARS GO TO SCHOOL

Nathaniel and his friends Fred and Molly, the eponymous Dragons From Mars (2016), are back, this time attending school on Earth.

Molly and Fred aren’t too sure about going to human school, but Nathaniel assures them they’ll be treated like stars. Molly still worries, and her fears turn out to be well grounded even though they stem from something the dragons have no control over: their size. The school doors are a problem that some breath-holding and gut-sucking solve, but no one can reconstruct the chair that Fred smashes into pieces, and the kids start to tease him. Molly will have none of it. She quickly launches into a lecture of all the “remarkable stuff” dragons can do, and just like that, the children are friends instead of bullies: “We just didn’t know that you guys were so cool.” Aronson’s verses scan well enough, but there’s nothing inspired in them, and the rhymes are lackluster. While bright, Jack’s digital illustrations fail to make up for the text. Facial expressions are a particular weakness, with the dragons often appearing vacuous. Nathaniel is a white redhead; his classmates are diverse.

Another bullying book that resolves with the bullies’ targets proving their usefulness. Skip. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: June 18, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-236851-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2019

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A surprisingly nuanced lesson set in confidence-building, easy-to-decode text.

BO'S MAGICAL NEW FRIEND

From the Unicorn Diaries series , Vol. 1

A unicorn learns a friendship lesson in this chapter-book series opener.

Unicorn Bo has friends but longs for a “bestie.” Luckily, a new unicorn pops into existence (literally: Unicorns appear on especially starry nights) and joins Bo at the Sparklegrove School for Unicorns, where they study things like unicorn magic. Each unicorn has a special power; Bo’s is granting wishes. Not knowing what his own might be distresses new unicorn Sunny. When the week’s assignment is to earn a patch by using their unicorn powers to help someone, Bo hopes Sunny will wish to know Bo's power (enabling both unicorns to complete the task, and besides, Bo enjoys Sunny’s company and wants to help him). But when the words come out wrong, Sunny thinks Bo was feigning friendship to get to grant a wish and earn a patch, setting up a fairly sophisticated conflict. Bo makes things up to Sunny, and then—with the unicorns friends again and no longer trying to force their powers—arising circumstances enable them to earn their patches. The cheerful illustrations feature a sherbet palette, using patterns for texture; on busy pages with background colors similar to the characters’ color schemes, this combines with the absence of outlines to make discerning some individual characters a challenge. The format, familiar to readers of Elliott’s Owl Diaries series, uses large print and speech bubbles to keep pages to a manageable amount of text.

A surprisingly nuanced lesson set in confidence-building, easy-to-decode text. (Fantasy. 5-8)

Pub Date: Dec. 26, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-32332-0

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Sept. 29, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2019

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A charming journey of discovery, friendship, and acceptance.

DRAGONBOY

From the Dragonboy series , Vol. 1

A young, White, perfectly bald boy wakes up and happily announces, “Rise and shine, everyone,” as his stuffed animal friends rouse from their slumber.

He quickly dresses in a green dragon costume, and, anticipating adventure, they all travel to a fantastical world. Discoveries unfold agreeably until they meet someone new, a rainbow-horned white unicorn named Karley. She is too sad to play, as Karley isn’t magical and can’t fly like other unicorns. Everyone empathizes with Karley and shares how they are different than expected too. Dragonboy declares, “We are already who we are supposed to be,” which brings forth joy and dancing. After a great day, Dragonboy and friends fall back to sleep as Karley heads down a different hall, back to her room. She falls asleep, content with acceptance. In this first of a new picture-book series, debut author and illustrator Napoleoni uses acrylic paints on wood panels to create a vibrant world. Vivid colors and enchanting, emotive characters work seamlessly with the text to take readers on a journey of empathy and compassion. Hearts are hidden throughout the illustrations, culminating in the final spread with Karley sleeping in bed with a pale, black-haired child named Molly. Molly’s headboard is rainbow colored, and a sign hangs above, reading “One L♡ve, L♡ve all,” opening the door for thoughtful discussion and eager anticipation for Molly’s adventure. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A charming journey of discovery, friendship, and acceptance. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 14, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-316-46216-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: June 29, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2021

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