A solid storytime and lap-read that will amuse with each repeated read.

ZOG AND THE FLYING DOCTORS

Dynamic duo Donaldson and Scheffler (Superworm, 2014, etc.) are back with a tale full of high drama, medical emergencies, and dragon crash landings in this sequel to A Gold Star for Zog (2012).

In this outing, the pair reintroduces readers to the trio of traveling doctors: Gadabout the Great is an expert surgeon, Pearl has the distinction of being both a princess and a physician, and dragon Zog is a fire-breathing ambulance—albeit one that has some trouble with his landings. Flying from kingdom to kingdom and curing the maladies of the magical and nonmagical hoi polloi, the threesome passes Pearl’s uncle’s castle and decides to make a social call. Unfortunately, Pearl’s kingly uncle does not approve of a princess with outside employment. In a page turn, Pearl is transformed from medico to captive in a frilly dress, forced to embroider cushions and arrange flowers. As Gadabout and Zog try to save their friend, the king becomes ill with an unknown ailment. Teamwork saves the day (and cures the king of his misogynist attitude) thanks to Pearl’s medical research and Gadabout’s and Zog’s abilities to gather healing ingredients from past patients. Donaldson’s rhyme scheme is sharp, and fans will immediately recognize Scheffler’s distinctive style. Zog steals the show every time he quietly recovers from his bang-crash-thump landings in the background. The message is noble, but the lack of diversity—all the characters are white—tarnishes the crown.

A solid storytime and lap-read that will amuse with each repeated read. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-338-13417-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Levine/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 31, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2017

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More sentimental even than Staake’s earlier My Pet Book (2014), but the shiny metaphor is well-intentioned and the nod to...

THE BOOK OF GOLD

A lifelong quest slowly transforms a stolidly incurious Brooklyn lad into an educated, well-traveled geezer.

A dedicated nonreader, young Isaac Gutenberg turns up his nose at the tantalizing facts his book-loving parents dangle before him until a mysterious little old lady tells him about a legendary volume that not only contains the answers to every question ever asked, but when opened “turns to solid gold.” As years pass and Isaac eagerly riffles through every book he finds, his unalloyed greed changes to curiosity: “Why don’t the pyramids have windows?” “Who invented pizza?” “How did the number eight get its name?” After scouring the world’s book shelves, he ultimately comes to realize that the search itself has given him “a long life filled with wonder.” Bronze-toned, retro-style views of New York, India, and other locales are bookended between 1935 and present-day visits to idealized but recognizable versions of the New York Public Library’s Main Reading Room. There (in an act that would in real life get him ejected if not arrested), old Isaac sidles up to an unattended young patron to pass on the glittering legend. Isaac and most of the other figures are white, but Staake diversifies the skin tones of street crowds and readers in the overseas and later scenes.

More sentimental even than Staake’s earlier My Pet Book (2014), but the shiny metaphor is well-intentioned and the nod to libraries is well-taken. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 12, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-553-51077-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Schwartz & Wade/Random

Review Posted Online: May 10, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2017

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As ever, the force of nostalgia is strong; the force of narrative, not so much.

JACK FROST

From the Guardians of Childhood series

The tale of the only Guardian of Childhood to be a child himself turns out to be hinged on battles and transformations.

With flights of baroque fancy in both language and art, the story opens with Nightlight, oath-bound protector of the rotund lad who would become the Man in the Moon, locked in “fierce and valiant” battle with would-be kidnapper Pitch, the Nightmare King. The long, recuperative sleep that follows changes Nightlight to Jackson Overland Frost—a wild, lonely spirit who wanders the Earth spreading winter until the rescue of a family of errant children gives him fresh purpose: to protect not just one child, but all of them, “For they are all that I have, all that I am, / And all that I will ever be.” An elfin, slender figure in tight trousers and a stylish hoodie, his tousled silver locks in definite need of a trim or at least a comb, Jack seems to have stepped from some manga to pose theatrically amid late-autumnal sprays of mist and dramatic, cloudy curlicues. Nonetheless, the children’s elegant, Edwardian dress and references to a lost Golden Age in the mannered narrative intensify the retro atmosphere common to this series.

As ever, the force of nostalgia is strong; the force of narrative, not so much. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 27, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4424-3043-3

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2015

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