This winner is sure to find a spot on shelves, although it won’t stay there long.


Elya has proven herself a master at painlessly weaving Spanish vocabulary into her stories, and this latest is no exception.

Four bomberos and el capitán race to gear up and get to the fire after the alarm sounds. As humo fills the sky, they work together to aim the hose and douse las flamas. Firefighting is a perennially popular topic, and while the actual story here is rather unexceptional, Elya makes this book stand out in other ways. Yes, there are Dalmatians in the station and a fire pole to slide down. There is danger and the rescue of a cat. But there is also a woman on this firefighting team, and as always, Elya’s rhyming couplets are a joy to read aloud. Context clues as well as words that are close to English make most of the Spanish vocabulary easy to decode. A glossary helps readers with any they may be unsure of and provides pronunciation help. Santat’s illustrations also help to set this firefighter book apart. From the first page, he thrusts readers into the action with up-close views created with colored pencil, water on ink print, fire and Photoshop. His firefighters are real people with needs, interests and fears, who sweat and get dirty.

This winner is sure to find a spot on shelves, although it won’t stay there long. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: April 24, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-59990-461-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: Feb. 5, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2012

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Sure to assuage the fears of all astronauts bound for similar missions.


A genius way to ease kids into the new adventure that is kindergarten.

In an imaginative ruse that’s maintained through the whole book, a young astronaut prepares for his mission to Planet Kindergarten. On liftoff day (a space shuttle–themed calendar counts down the days; a stopwatch, the minutes), the small family boards their rocket ship (depicted in the illustrations as the family car), and “the boosters fire.” They orbit base camp while looking for a docking place. “I am assigned to my commander, capsule, and crewmates.” Though he’s afraid, he stands tall and is brave (not just once, either—the escape hatch beckons, but NASA’s saying gets him through: “FAILURE IS NOT AN OPTION”). Parents will certainly chuckle along with this one, but kindergarten teachers’ stomach muscles will ache: “[G]ravity works differently here. We have to try hard to stay in our seats. And our hands go up a lot.” Prigmore’s digital illustrations are the perfect complement to the tongue-in-cheek text. Bold colors, sharp lines and a retro-space style play up the theme. The intrepid explorer’s crewmates are a motley assortment of “aliens”—among them are a kid in a hoodie with the laces pulled so tight that only a nose and mouth are visible; a plump kid with a bluish cast to his skin; and a pinkish girl with a toothpick-thin neck and huge bug eyes.

Sure to assuage the fears of all astronauts bound for similar missions. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: May 20, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4521-1893-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2014

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A brother and sister must overcome obstacles to rescue each other in a marvelous journey.

“There once lived,” the tale begins, and it ends quite satisfactorily with “happily ever after.” In between, two heroic adventures are linked together, each complete with difficulties, brave rescues, kindnesses, and magical coincidences. The little wooden robot and the log princess are gifts from the royal inventor and a clever witch, respectively, for “a king and queen who happily ruled a pleasant land” but had no children. Everyone in the family loves one another, and the siblings play together all day. But when, calamitously, the princess becomes fixed in her log form one night, the little robot doesn’t hesitate to board a ship for the far north to save his sister, and when his parts fail on the way back, the princess steps up courageously. The additional myriad escapades of each young hero are captured in charming graphic montages. Gauld’s crisp, clear art, with captivating small details in backgrounds and endpapers, adds richness to the narrative. The amiable faces of each of his human and humanoid characters, along with those of birds, bugs, and forest creatures, give a feel of intimacy and familiarity. The queen appears Black and the king White, and the princess has brown skin. Gauld’s fairy tale feels both timeless and completely new; utterly fresh, yet like a story heard long ago and finally found again.

Enchanting. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 24, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-8234-4698-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Neal Porter/Holiday House

Review Posted Online: June 29, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2021

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