A simple lesson jazzed up by obstacles.


From the Jim Henson's Enchanted Sisters series , Vol. 2

The Seasonal Sparkles return in an adventure about friendship, fairness and jealousy.

Winter, the Sparkle responsible for causing winter in the human world, lives in her icy Sparkledom with her pet and best friend, Flurry the polar bear. While Winter and Flurry build a giant snow fort one day to impress her sisters, they discover a baby fox. Winter fawns over the cute fox, neglecting Flurry and sparking his jealousy. Hurt, he takes off—tunneling straight into the Barrens, the land inhabited by the villainous Bluster Tempest and his counterparts to the Sparkles, the Weeds boys. Accompanied by her sisters and the baby fox, Winter goes on a quest to get her best friend back. Along the way they face nasty surprises—booby traps left by the Weeds range from dangerous (giant mouse traps and Indiana Jones–style spikes triggered by sensors in the floor) to hilariously unpleasant (a smell so bad that Winter says “It’s like someone pooped in my nose!”). When they find Flurry, he’s less in need of rescue than they anticipated—the Weeds have adopted him and renamed him Butch. Worse, he might not even want to come home. Winter has to leave the decision up to him—the less-than-considerate nature of the Weeds along with Winter’s unconditional apology win the day.

A simple lesson jazzed up by obstacles. (Fantasy. 7-10)

Pub Date: Oct. 14, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-61963-297-4

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: Aug. 27, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2014

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Deliberately inspirational and tinged with nostalgia, this will please fans but may strike others as overly idealistic.


Veteran picture-book creator Polacco tells another story from her childhood that celebrates the importance of staying true to one’s own interests and values.

After years of spending summers with her father and grandmother, narrator Trisha is excited to be spending the school year in Michigan with them. Unexpectedly abandoned by her summertime friends, Trisha quickly connects with fellow outsiders Thom and Ravanne, who may be familiar to readers from Polacco’s The Junkyard Wonders (2010). Throughout the school year, the three enjoy activities together and do their best to avoid school bully Billy. While a physical confrontation between Thom (aka “Sissy Boy”) and Billy does come, so does an opportunity for Thom to defy convention and share his talent with the community. Loosely sketched watercolor illustrations place the story in the middle of the last century, with somewhat old-fashioned clothing and an apparently all-White community. Trisha and her classmates appear to be what today would be called middle schoolers; a reference to something Trisha and her mom did when she was “only eight” suggests that several years have passed since that time. As usual, the lengthy first-person narrative is cozily conversational but includes some challenging vocabulary (textiles, lackeys, foretold). The author’s note provides a brief update about her friends’ careers and encourages readers to embrace their own differences. (This book was reviewed digitally with 11-by-18-inch double-page spreads viewed at actual size.)

Deliberately inspirational and tinged with nostalgia, this will please fans but may strike others as overly idealistic. (Picture book. 7-10)

Pub Date: Oct. 6, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5344-2622-1

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2020

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Move over Ramona Quimby, Portland has another neighbor you have to meet!


From the Ryan Hart series , Vol. 1

Ryan Hart is navigating the fourth grade and all its challenges with determination.

Her mom named her Ryan because it means “king,” and she wanted Ryan to feel powerful every time she heard her name; Ryan knows it means she is a leader. So when changes occur or disaster strikes, budding chef Ryan does her best to find the positive and “make sunshine.” When her dad is laid off from the post office, the family must make adjustments that include moving into a smaller house, selling their car, and changing how they shop for groceries. But Ryan gets to stay at Vernon Elementary, and her mom still finds a way to get her the ingredients she needs to practice new recipes. Her older brother, Ray, can be bossy, but he finds little ways to support her, especially when she is down—as does the whole family. Each episodic chapter confronts Ryan with a situation; intermittently funny, frustrating, and touching, they should be familiar and accessible to readers, as when Ryan fumbles her Easter speech despite careful practice. Ryan, her family, and friends are Black, and Watson continues to bring visibility to both Portland, Oregon, generally and its Black community specifically, making another wonderful contribution that allows Black readers to see themselves and all readers to find a character they can love.

Move over Ramona Quimby, Portland has another neighbor you have to meet! (Fiction. 8-10)

Pub Date: April 28, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5476-0056-4

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: Jan. 21, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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