Delightfully on-brand. Kids will book it to the shelves for this one.

WHO IS THE MYSTERY READER?

From the Unlimited Squirrels series

The Unlimited Squirrels return for a metafictive romp—hooray!

Carrying a copy of the book (yes, this book), one squirrel asks “Who is the MYSTERY READER?” The others respond, one after another: “Let’s. Read. And. Find out!” So begins this sequel to I Lost My Tooth! (2018), a brilliant, 96-page laugh track composed of four stories and three “acorn-y” jokes. In the first story, the squirrels struggle to decode the letters of a stop sign. Thankfully, the heroic Mystery Reader arrives on the scene—complete with mask and underpants—to help them sound out their letters: “Ssssttt… / …OP!” The second story includes a brief history of writing systems (and a web address for further info); the third divulges “Mo Squirrel’s” own writing process. Though narratively all over the place (in a good way), this takes the self-referential torch from We Are in a Book! (2010) and highlights the next step up in reading development. Willems’ high-interest presentation and formula create a familiar, entertaining format that combines fact, fiction, and plenty of squirrels. The text complexity is similar to that found in the Elephant and Piggie books, but there are more color-coded dialogue bubbles per page. Willems also employs “emote-acorns” to highlight characters’ emotions. Readers may never find out who the Mystery Reader is, but, in the process of investigating, they just might sound out their own reading superpowers!

Delightfully on-brand. Kids will book it to the shelves for this one. (Early reader. 5-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-368-04686-2

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: July 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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A touching, beautifully illustrated story of greatest interest to those in the New York City area.

RED AND LULU

A pair of cardinals is separated and then reunited when their tree home is moved to New York City to serve as the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree.

The male cardinal, Red, and his female partner, Lulu, enjoy their home in a huge evergreen tree located in the front yard of a small house in a pleasant neighborhood. When the tree is cut down and hauled away on a truck, Lulu is still inside the tree. Red follows the truck into the city but loses sight of it and gets lost. The birds are reunited when Red finds the tree transformed with colored lights and serving as the Christmas tree in a complex of city buildings. When the tree is removed after Christmas, the birds find a new home in a nearby park. Each following Christmas, the pair visit the new tree erected in the same location. Attractive illustrations effectively handle some difficult challenges of dimension and perspective and create a glowing, magical atmosphere for the snowy Christmas trees. The original owners of the tree are a multiracial family with two children; the father is African-American and the mother is white. The family is in the background in the early pages, reappearing again skating on the rink at Rockefeller Center with their tree in the background.

A touching, beautifully illustrated story of greatest interest to those in the New York City area. (author’s note) (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 19, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-7636-7733-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Aug. 21, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2017

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PUG BLASTS OFF

From the Diary of a Pug series , Vol. 1

A cuddly, squishy pug’s puggy-wuggy diary.

Equipped with both #pugunicorn and #pughotdog outfits, pug Baron von Bubbles (aka Bub) is the kind of dog that always dresses to impress. Bub also makes lots of memorable faces, such as the “Hey, you’re not the boss of me!” expression aimed at Duchess, the snooty pink house cat. Some of Bub’s favorite things include skateboarding, a favorite teddy, and eating peanut butter. Bub also loves Bella, who adopted Bub from a fair—it was “love at first sniff.” Together, Bub and Bella do a lot of arts and crafts. Their latest project: entering Bella’s school’s inventor challenge by making a super-duper awesome rocket. But, when the pesky neighborhood squirrel, Nutz, makes off with Bub’s bear, Bub accidentally ruins their project. How will they win the contest? More importantly, how will Bella ever forgive him? May’s cutesy, full-color cartoon art sets the tone for this pug-tastic romp for the new-to–chapter-books crowd. Emojilike faces accentuate Bub’s already expressive character design. Bub’s infectious first-person narration pushes the silly factor off the charts. In addition to creating the look and feel of a diary, the lined paper helps readers follow the eight-chapter story. Most pages have fewer than five sentences, often broken into smaller sections. Additional text appears in color-coded speech bubbles. Bella presents white.

Totes adorbs. (Fiction. 5-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-53003-2

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

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