Thin characterization and an unsatisfying ending make this one to miss.

TODAY YOU CAN'T PLAY

From the Égalité series

A bully causes a group of kids to find a solution to their playtime dilemma.

Ever since Emma’s arrival, Ana’s been isolated from her longtime friends, rumored about cruelly, and made to give up her lunches. Fearing the embarrassment of tattling, Ana suffers in silence—until her friends get the same kind of treatment and decide, one by one, to form their own play group. Despite threats, the group grows bigger each day until Emma is left alone and must sheepishly ask to join them all. This timely book about bullying and power dynamics unfortunately falls short on nuance and ends abruptly. The lesson from Spanish author and kindergarten teacher Serrano seems to be that kids should wait a bully out instead of getting an adult involved. And Emma herself is presented only as a frowning ball of anger and spite; it’s unclear what her motivations are and how, as a new kid in school, she was able to take control so easily. What both the English and simultaneously publishing Spanish versions of the book do get right, though, is the feeling of being trapped in an uncontrollable school power dynamic, illustrated with plenty of sweat and frowns. There’s the gulps, the tummy aches, the anxiety of feeling picked on and singled out. Emma presents white, Ana has brown skin, and the other kids are diverse.

Thin characterization and an unsatisfying ending make this one to miss. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 27, 2019

ISBN: 978-84-17123-46-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: nubeOCHO

Review Posted Online: April 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2019

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The dynamic interaction between the characters invites readers to take risks, push boundaries, and have a little unscripted...

CLAYMATES

Reinvention is the name of the game for two blobs of clay.

A blue-eyed gray blob and a brown-eyed brown blob sit side by side, unsure as to what’s going to happen next. The gray anticipates an adventure, while the brown appears apprehensive. A pair of hands descends, and soon, amid a flurry of squishing and prodding and poking and sculpting, a handsome gray wolf and a stately brown owl emerge. The hands disappear, leaving the friends to their own devices. The owl is pleased, but the wolf convinces it that the best is yet to come. An ear pulled here and an extra eye placed there, and before you can shake a carving stick, a spurt of frenetic self-exploration—expressed as a tangled black scribble—reveals a succession of smug hybrid beasts. After all, the opportunity to become a “pig-e-phant” doesn’t come around every day. But the sound of approaching footsteps panics the pair of Picassos. How are they going to “fix [them]selves” on time? Soon a hippopotamus and peacock are staring bug-eyed at a returning pair of astonished hands. The creative naiveté of the “clay mates” is perfectly captured by Petty’s feisty, spot-on dialogue: “This was your idea…and it was a BAD one.” Eldridge’s endearing sculpted images are photographed against the stark white background of an artist’s work table to great effect.

The dynamic interaction between the characters invites readers to take risks, push boundaries, and have a little unscripted fun of their own . (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: June 20, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-316-30311-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2017

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A jam-packed opener sure to satisfy lovers of the princess genre.

SNOW PLACE LIKE HOME

From the Diary of an Ice Princess series

Ice princess Lina must navigate family and school in this early chapter read.

The family picnic is today. This is not a typical gathering, since Lina’s maternal relatives are a royal family of Windtamers who have power over the weather and live in castles floating on clouds. Lina herself is mixed race, with black hair and a tan complexion like her Asian-presenting mother’s; her Groundling father appears to be a white human. While making a grand entrance at the castle of her grandfather, the North Wind, she fails to successfully ride a gust of wind and crashes in front of her entire family. This prompts her stern grandfather to ask that Lina move in with him so he can teach her to control her powers. Desperate to avoid this, Lina and her friend Claudia, who is black, get Lina accepted at the Hilltop Science and Arts Academy. Lina’s parents allow her to go as long as she does lessons with grandpa on Saturdays. However, fitting in at a Groundling school is rough, especially when your powers start freak winter storms! With the story unfurling in diary format, bright-pink–highlighted grayscale illustrations help move the plot along. There are slight gaps in the storytelling and the pacing is occasionally uneven, but Lina is full of spunk and promotes self-acceptance.

A jam-packed opener sure to satisfy lovers of the princess genre. (Fantasy. 5-8)

Pub Date: June 25, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-35393-8

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: March 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2019

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