An engaging friendship story full of imaginative details for young explorers.

FIVE MAGIC ROOMS

From the I Like To Read Comics series

An ordinary play date turns into an extraordinary sensory adventure in this graphic early reader.

An excited Mina visits friend Pie for the first time and quickly learns that Pie’s big house is full of surprises. First, Pie explains, “We always wear costumes at my house,” showing off a red-and-black cape. When Mina can’t decide on a costume, Pie’s mother (who wears pink cat ears) selects a tiara. The Sun Room is lush with plants, including cacti to both touch and not touch; the Crystal Room sparkles; the Quilt Room, for making crafts, is a treasure of textures; floating iridescent bubbles fill the Bubble Room (aka the bathroom); and the Perfumery has so many smells that Mina is overwhelmed. The children go outside to walk the maze and rest in a storage shed that is “warm…dark…and safe.” When Mina remarks, “My house is boring,” Pie helps Mina see that what Mina thinks is familiar is pretty special too. As a last sensory experience, Mina bravely tries the outdoor lunch, replete with foods unfamiliar to Mina (but possibly quite familiar to readers). Knetzger’s candy-colored panels overflow with whimsy; readers may be as relieved as Mina for the respite in the shed. The faux hand-lettered, adjective-rich text features short sentences but little repetition, suiting it for somewhat experienced readers. Mina has very light brown skin; Pie and Pie’s mom are extremely pale. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

An engaging friendship story full of imaginative details for young explorers. (Graphic early reader. 5-7)

Pub Date: June 8, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-8234-4497-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: April 14, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2021

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Fast and furious action guaranteed to keep new readers laughing and turning pages.

FROG AND BALL

From the I Like To Read Comics series

Never underestimate the chaotic fun that magic and an angry bouncing ball can create.

When Frog goes to the library, he borrows a book on magic. He then heads to a nearby park to read up on the skills necessary to becoming “a great magician.” Suddenly, a deflated yellow ball lands with a “Thud!” at his feet. Although he flexes his new magician muscles, Frog’s spells fall as flat as the ball. But when Frog shouts “Phooey!” and kicks the ball away, it inflates to become a big, angry ball. The ball begins to chase Frog, so he seeks shelter in the library—and Frog and ball turn the library’s usual calm into chaos. The cartoon chase crescendos. The ball bounces into the middle of a game of chess, interrupts a puppet show, and crashes into walls and bookcases. Staying just one bounce ahead, Frog runs, hides, grabs a ride on a book cart, and scatters books and papers as he slides across the library furniture before an alligator patron catches the ball and kicks it out the library door. But that’s not the end of the ball….Caple’s tidy panels and pastel-hued cartoons make a surprisingly effective setting for the slapstick, which should have young readers giggling. Simple sentences—often just subject and verb—with lots of repetition propel the action. Frog’s nonsense-word spells (“Poof Wiffle, Bop Bip!”) are both funny and excellent practice in phonetics. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Fast and furious action guaranteed to keep new readers laughing and turning pages. (Graphic early reader. 5-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 10, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-8234-4341-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: June 2, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2021

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An early-reader fantasy tale that portrays a strong friendship but lacks drama.

THE LITTLE WITCH'S BIRTHDAY PARTY

Pellico presents a birthday celebration with both familiar and magical elements in this children’s-book sequel.

Sabrina has planned a picture-perfect eighth birthday party for Anna, her new friend. As Sabrina’s other pals begin to arrive, they can hardly contain their excitement to meet the birthday girl, who’s a genuine, magic-wielding witch. Anna and her warlock brother, Drew, amaze the partygoers with a fantastic entrance; they have Anna’s color-changing cat with them, and Drew magically lights the birthday candles. Anna and her sibling are thrilled by the party piñata, the red velvet cake, and the pleasant celebration. When Sabrina and Anna part, they promise to meet again soon, so that Anna can teach her witch pal how to ride a bike and Anna can instruct her nonmagical friend on how to ride a broom. Pellico’s upbeat follow-up fantasy is longer and offers more detail than its predecessor. However, it lacks a strong plot, as the characters have no real problems to overcome. Readers also learn relatively little about Anna and her everyday life. The celebration itself offers a solid balance of fantasy and traditional elements, allowing readers to find joy in both. At times, the text feels cumbersome for an audience of early readers, but the blend of dialogue and narration maintains a good pace. Berry’s full-color illustrations are effective, particularly when depicting Anna’s and Drew’s magical-looking clothing. Once again, this series entry encourages readers to be open to other people’s differences, but its lack of conflict may strike some as unrealistic.

An early-reader fantasy tale that portrays a strong friendship but lacks drama.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-73391-305-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Moonbow Publishing

Review Posted Online: Feb. 5, 2021

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