A triumphant story celebrating the ability of love, community, and cooperation to overcome any obstacle.

IN A SMALL KINGDOM

In a small kingdom, a young heir ascends, a dastardly villain plots, and a magical robe saves the day.

When the king dies suddenly, the citizens of the titular kingdom worry for the future, as their deceased ruler had warded off thieves and bandits with the aid of a magical imperial robe. The people rejoice when the beloved king’s younger son is named the heir, but his older half brother vows to claim the throne for himself. He steals the robe, slices it to ribbons, and casts the pieces to the wind, certain that his younger brother cannot rule without the aid of magic. DePaola’s latest is both a charming fairy tale and a valuable lesson reminding readers that true strength comes from love rather than brute force. Salati’s arresting illustrations, filled with beautiful animal imagery, are like a Renaissance woven tapestry come to life. The illustrator makes expert use of the double-page spread to display the grandeur of the dead king, the otherworldly beauty of the blue and gold robe, and the charm of the townspeople who sew a new robe for their young ruler. The king’s counselors are a nice mélange of young and old men and women; the protagonist is biracial, and his half brother is white.

A triumphant story celebrating the ability of love, community, and cooperation to overcome any obstacle. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: April 3, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4814-9800-5

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Jan. 13, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2018

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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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A good choice to share with wriggly listeners, who will soon be joining in.

AT THE OLD HAUNTED HOUSE

A Halloween book that rides on the rhythms of “Over in the Meadow.”

Although Halloween rhyming counting books abound, this stands out, with a text that begs to be read aloud and cartoony digital illustrations that add goofy appeal. A girl and two boys set off on Halloween night to go trick-or-treating. As the children leave the cozy, warm glow of their street, readers see a haunted house on a hill, with gravestones dotting the front yard. Climbing the twisty path to the dark estate takes time, so the story turns to the antics inside the house. “At the old haunted house in a room with no sun / lived a warty green witch and her wee witch one. ‘SPELL!’ cried the witch. ‘POOF!’ cried the one. / And they both practiced spells in the room with no sun.” The actions of the scary creatures within may seem odd, but the rhyme must go on: Cats scratch, goblins dust, monsters stir, and mummies mix. Eventually the three kids reach the front door and are invited in for stew, cake and brew. At first shocked by the gruesome fare, the children recover quickly and get caught up in partying with the slightly spooky but friendly menagerie.

A good choice to share with wriggly listeners, who will soon be joining in. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Aug. 12, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4778-4769-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Two Lions

Review Posted Online: July 16, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2014

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