With Sabuda, it’s hard to set expectations too high or wide, but here he rides triumphantly roughshod over them anyway.

THE DRAGON & THE KNIGHT

A POP-UP MISADVENTURE

Sabuda gives the usual relationship between story and picture a hefty tweak in this pop-up romp.

Though ostensibly a collection of such chestnuts as “Little Red Riding Hood” and “Cinderella,” the retold narratives really serve as visual backdrops to the main action, which involves a fire-breathing dragon and a marshmallow-loving knight ripping through the pages in a game of tag. Readers not in on the joke will naturally start at the beginning—and soon discover that the stories get harder and harder to read as pop-up props are glued over phrases, whole passages are repurposed as die-cut 3-D shapes, and the dragon’s fiery blasts knock the words themselves askew. Leaving “Puss In Boots” behind as just a scattering of burn holes and disconnected phrases, knight and dragon ultimately settle down (with one last surprise twist) for a peaceable marshmallow roast. Highlighted by a dragon head that lunges out at viewers with a gush of paper “flame” as the spread opens, the pop-ups are, predictably, gobsmacking assemblages that whirl into multilevel scenes or rear up to seemingly impossible heights. “Want to play again?” asks the knight. The invitation is well-nigh irresistible.

With Sabuda, it’s hard to set expectations too high or wide, but here he rides triumphantly roughshod over them anyway. (Pop-up picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: Oct. 21, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4169-6081-2

Page Count: 22

Publisher: Little Simon/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Sept. 14, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2014

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A surprisingly nuanced lesson set in confidence-building, easy-to-decode text.

BO'S MAGICAL NEW FRIEND

From the Unicorn Diaries series , Vol. 1

A unicorn learns a friendship lesson in this chapter-book series opener.

Unicorn Bo has friends but longs for a “bestie.” Luckily, a new unicorn pops into existence (literally: Unicorns appear on especially starry nights) and joins Bo at the Sparklegrove School for Unicorns, where they study things like unicorn magic. Each unicorn has a special power; Bo’s is granting wishes. Not knowing what his own might be distresses new unicorn Sunny. When the week’s assignment is to earn a patch by using their unicorn powers to help someone, Bo hopes Sunny will wish to know Bo's power (enabling both unicorns to complete the task, and besides, Bo enjoys Sunny’s company and wants to help him). But when the words come out wrong, Sunny thinks Bo was feigning friendship to get to grant a wish and earn a patch, setting up a fairly sophisticated conflict. Bo makes things up to Sunny, and then—with the unicorns friends again and no longer trying to force their powers—arising circumstances enable them to earn their patches. The cheerful illustrations feature a sherbet palette, using patterns for texture; on busy pages with background colors similar to the characters’ color schemes, this combines with the absence of outlines to make discerning some individual characters a challenge. The format, familiar to readers of Elliott’s Owl Diaries series, uses large print and speech bubbles to keep pages to a manageable amount of text.

A surprisingly nuanced lesson set in confidence-building, easy-to-decode text. (Fantasy. 5-8)

Pub Date: Dec. 26, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-32332-0

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Sept. 29, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 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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