A quiet tale of magic and love with delicate, realistic illustrations.

THUNDER HORSE

A child raises a magical horse and learns about the enduring power of love in this picture book.

The narrator is given a tiny white horse, “perfect in every way,” by Aunt Aldora, who wears a bright shawl and bangles, in contrast to the child’s more staidly attired parents. She says that the tiny horse came from a “hidden Greek Island” and cautions the child that, because the horse is magical and “you cannot own magic,” one day, the horse will leave. The child cares for the horse, feeding it and walking it on a leash. After the child hears a teacher read the story of Pegasus in class, the youngster decides that Pegasus is the perfect name for the horse, who has been growing and growing and now sports magnificent wings. Bunting’s assured text is quiet, subtle, and accepting, and Nolan’s delicate and emotive illustrations (all full-color, double-page spreads) add their own peacefulness. They have the look of pastels on colored paper, giving the images a textured, solid feel that is nevertheless dreamlike. The youngster and Pegasus form a strong and loving bond, made poignant by its impermanence. The final pages of the story switch from past tense to the present, allowing readers to understand that the happy, satisfying conclusion will continue. The narrator has long, brown hair and pale skin, as do both parents and Aunt Aldora. 

A quiet tale of magic and love with delicate, realistic illustrations. (Picture book. 3-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 14, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-62672-443-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Neal Porter/Roaring Brook

Review Posted Online: Aug. 2, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2017

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A wandering effort, happy but pointless.

DRAGONS LOVE TACOS

From the Dragons Love Tacos series

The perfect book for kids who love dragons and mild tacos.

Rubin’s story starts with an incantatory edge: “Hey, kid! Did you know that dragons love tacos? They love beef tacos and chicken tacos. They love really big gigantic tacos and tiny little baby tacos as well.” The playing field is set: dragons, tacos. As a pairing, they are fairly silly, and when the kicker comes in—that dragons hate spicy salsa, which ignites their inner fireworks—the silliness is sillier still. Second nature, after all, is for dragons to blow flames out their noses. So when the kid throws a taco party for the dragons, it seems a weak device that the clearly labeled “totally mild” salsa comes with spicy jalapenos in the fine print, prompting the dragons to burn down the house, resulting in a barn-raising at which more tacos are served. Harmless, but if there is a parable hidden in the dragon-taco tale, it is hidden in the unlit deep, and as a measure of lunacy, bridled or unbridled, it doesn’t make the leap into the outer reaches of imagination. Salmieri’s artwork is fitting, with a crabbed, ethereal line work reminiscent of Peter Sís, but the story does not offer it enough range.

A wandering effort, happy but pointless. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: June 14, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-8037-3680-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: March 28, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2012

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Yes, the Pigeon has to go to school, and so do readers, and this book will surely ease the way.

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THE PIGEON HAS TO GO TO SCHOOL!

From the Pigeon series

All the typical worries and excuses kids have about school are filtered through Willems’ hysterical, bus-loving Pigeon.

Told mostly in speech balloons, the bird’s monologue will have kids (and their caregivers) in stitches at Pigeon’s excuses. From already knowing everything (except whatever question readers choose to provide in response to “Go ahead—ask me a question. / Any question!”) to fearing learning too much (“My head might pop off”), Pigeon’s imagination has run wild. Readers familiar with Pigeon will recognize the muted, matte backgrounds that show off the bird’s shenanigans so well. As in previous outings, Willems varies the size of the pigeon on the page to help communicate emotion, the bird teeny small on the double-page spread that illustrates the confession that “I’m… / scared.” And Pigeon’s eight-box rant about all the perils of school (“The unknown stresses me out, dude”) is marvelously followed by the realization (complete with lightbulb thought bubble) that school is the place for students to practice, with experts, all those skills they don’t yet have. But it is the ending that is so Willems, so Pigeon, and so perfect. Pigeon’s last question is “Well, HOW am I supposed to get there, anyway!?!” Readers will readily guess both the answer and Pigeon’s reaction.

Yes, the Pigeon has to go to school, and so do readers, and this book will surely ease the way. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: July 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-368-04645-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: May 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2019

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