Rev up your flux capacitors, because the space-time continuum will never be the same again! (Picture book. 4-7)

THE TROUBLE WITH TIME TRAVEL

Want to get back to the future? Better rectify the past—and fast!

One slip of the wrist, and the next thing Max knows her Frisbee has thoroughly smashed her 18th-century ancestor’s vase (the sole thing saved when the woman’s houseboat mysteriously sank). Facing the daunting prospect of fessing up, Max opts instead to rewrite the past by inventing a time-travel machine with the hope of pre-destroying the vase. But while time travel may be a science, it apparently isn’t an exact science, and Max finds herself to be the cause of the houseboat’s demise in the first place. At last she comes up with a new solution, but will her past self heed her future self’s warning? Although this is as nicely convoluted as any good time-travel yarn should be, older children should have no difficulty piecing together its coincidences and repercussions. What could have felt like a “Calvin and Hobbes” retread is instead fresh and new. Max’s path of destruction cuts through a swath of time, and it abounds in clever visual gags including the fates of the Sphinx’s nose and the Venus de Milo’s arms as well as the occasional futuristic robot uprising. Reds and blues suffuse the visual palette, and while Max, who presents white, and her hijinks read well, the eclectic, energetic art steals the show.

Rev up your flux capacitors, because the space-time continuum will never be the same again! (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-77147332-3

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Owlkids Books

Review Posted Online: July 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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Birdsong began her career as a teacher, and the book will find repeated use in the classroom.

I WILL BE FIERCE

A multicultural girl-power manifesto featuring a feisty young girl who faces her day as a knight on an epic quest.

The unnamed narrator puts on her “armor” (a rainbow sweater) and fills her “treasure chest” (a backpack). Venturing forth to “explore new worlds,” she drives back “dragons” (neighborhood dogs on their walk), boards the “many-headed serpent” (her school bus, with schoolmates’ heads protruding from every window), and visits “the Mountain of Knowledge” (the school library) to “solve the mysteries of the unknown.” After standing up for her beliefs—by joining a classmate sitting alone in the cafeteria—the young girl returns home to rest in the lap of an older female relative, possibly a grandparent/primary caregiver, to prepare for the next day, when she can be “fierce again.” Birdsong’s repeated refrain—“I will be fierce!”—underlines the unambiguous message of this sassy picture book, and Chanani’s bold and energetic illustrations reinforce the text’s punchy, feminist-y declarations. They depict a joyously multiracial environment, consciously tackling stereotypes with an elderly, white, female bus driver and a groovy, Asian-presenting librarian with a green streak in her hair. The fierce protagonist herself has brown skin and fluffy, dark brown hair, and her caregiver also has brown skin.

Birdsong began her career as a teacher, and the book will find repeated use in the classroom. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: April 23, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-250-29508-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Roaring Brook Press

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2019

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Take strength from the dreamers before you and follow your dreams. Or maybe just roll the dice.

LITTLE JOE CHICKAPIG

Is it a book about aspirations or the backstory for the board game?

Chickapig is defined as “an animal hybrid that is half-chicken and half-pig” and is depicted in yellow, two-legged chick shape with pink pig snout and ears. Young Joe Chickapig lives on a farm that was his grandfather’s dream, but it’s getting Joe down. He dreams of adventure but needs the “courage to follow his heart. / But how could he do it? How could he start?” In a bedtime story, Joe’s mother shares the influential characters that helped Joe’s sailor grandfather “follow his heart against the tide.” It seems that “Grandpa had heard a story told / Of a great big bear who broke the mold. / The bear was tired of striking fear”—so he became a forest doctor and a friend to all. And the bear’s inspiration? “A mouse who went to space.” The mouse, in turn, found hope in a “fierce young dragon” who joined a rock band. And coming full circle, the dragon found courage from a Chickapig warrior who “tired of shields and swords to wield” and established a farm. Chickapig game fans will appreciate this fanciful rhyming tale illustrated in attention-grabbing colors, but readers coming to it cold will note a distinct absence of plot. Mouse and dragon present female; all others are male.

Take strength from the dreamers before you and follow your dreams. Or maybe just roll the dice. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Jan. 14, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-7944-4452-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Printers Row

Review Posted Online: Oct. 9, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

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