This exquisitely illustrated story will appeal to contemplative and artistic readers.


What is contained in the heart and the mind is explored in this unusual picture book, originally published in France.

The unnamed narrator, a young child illustrated with light-brown hair and light skin, lives next door to Louise, a child the narrator’s age illustrated with light skin and dark-brown hair. They draw together on the ground with large colored chalk, creating a forest of “big trunks…and leaves of all colors,” which is sometimes “roll[ed] over” by a passing car. (Yikes.) One day, Louise asks the narrator what is inside the narrator’s head. Unsure, the child decides to look. This is unusually—and effectively, given Ribeyron’s collagelike style—illustrated by showing the child literally pushing back the top of their head. To the child’s surprise, the child finds a forest—or rather, a series of forests. A sequence of exquisite double-page spreads showing evocatively rendered forests (described as “quiet,” “shy,” “secret,” etc.) present as visual metaphors for different states of mind. Crisp edges are mixed with free-form lines, exploring the balance between boundaries and creative expression. The narrator goes to tell Louise about the forests, but “Louise was gone. Forever.” This sudden and unsettling turn of events is unexplained, and the narrator, unable to cry, thinks perhaps they have no heart inside. So the child opens up their heart area and looks. What’s within will delight readers. (This book was reviewed digitally with 13.4-by-19.6-inch double-page spreads viewed at 16.8% of actual size.)

This exquisitely illustrated story will appeal to contemplative and artistic readers. (Picture book. 5-10)

Pub Date: Nov. 6, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4788-7031-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Reycraft Books

Review Posted Online: Sept. 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2020

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


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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An effort as insubstantial as any spirit.


Eleven-year-old Maria Russo helps her charlatan mother hoodwink customers, but Maria has a spirited secret.

Maria’s mother, the psychic Madame Destine, cons widows out of their valuables with the assistance of their apartment building’s super, Mr. Fox. Madame Destine home-schools Maria, and because Destine is afraid of unwanted attention, she forbids Maria from talking to others. Maria is allowed to go to the library, where new librarian Ms. Madigan takes an interest in Maria that may cause her trouble. Meanwhile, Sebastian, Maria’s new upstairs neighbor, would like to be friends. All this interaction makes it hard for Maria to keep her secret: that she is visited by Edward, a spirit who tells her the actual secrets of Madame Destine’s clients via spirit writing. When Edward urges Maria to help Mrs. Fisher, Madame Destine’s most recent mark, Maria must overcome her shyness and her fear of her mother—helping Mrs. Fisher may be the key to the mysterious past Maria uncovers and a brighter future. Alas, picture-book–creator Ford’s middle-grade debut is a muddled, melodramatic mystery with something of an everything-but-the-kitchen-sink feel: In addition to the premise, there’s a tragically dead father, a mysterious family tree, and the Beat poets. Sluggish pacing; stilted, unrealistic dialogue; cartoonishly stock characters; and unattractive, flat illustrations make this one to miss. Maria and Sebastian are both depicted with brown skin, hers lighter than his; the other principals appear to be white.

An effort as insubstantial as any spirit. (author’s note) (Paranormal mystery. 7-10)

Pub Date: July 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-20567-4

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Christy Ottaviano/Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2020

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