Pure fantasy in the best sense.

DANDAN'S DREAM

When the post office announces that children can now be mailed, Dandan is excited to finally visit her father at the South Pole.

On huge, colorful spreads filled with surreal details and bold brush strokes, Dandan embarks on a dreamy journey by affixing winged stamps to her clothing and taking off on the back of a magical blue horse. The Chinese girl with a bowl haircut flies exuberantly over landscapes dotted with whimsical details (such as clothed animals doing jobs and a cage full of colorful birds several times larger than the houses) until she spots trouble. A whale has trapped a ship against an island! Fantastical sea creatures ogle the disaster from below. Discarding stamps like petals, Dandan descends to rescue the boat and its crew but then realizes she has no more stamps for flying. Of course, she finds a very creative solution, and the delightful sight of a little man in his green parka waving from an iceberg will not fail to bring a smile to any reader’s face. Gong’s artwork is a riot of colors and odd juxtapositions and compositions, a cross between Elisa Kleven’s and Maira Kalman’s work. Every page includes charming details scattered across dynamic and bold compositions, especially delightful when paired with Zhu’s absurd plot conveyed through expressive font sizes, shapes, and colors. (This book was reviewed digitally with 11.4-by-18-inch double-page spreads viewed at 60% of actual size.)

Pure fantasy in the best sense. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 30, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4788-6853-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Reycraft Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2020

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Well-meaning and with a lovely presentation, this sentimental effort may be aimed more at adults than kids.

MY LITTLE BRAVE GIRL

Little girls are given encouragement and assurance so they can meet the challenges of life as they move through the big, wide world.

Delicately soft watercolor-style art depicts naturalistic scenes with a diverse quintet of little girls portraying potential situations they will encounter, as noted by a narrative heavily dependent on a series of clichés. “The stars are high, and you can reach them,” it promises as three of the girls chase fireflies under a star-filled night sky. “Oceans run deep, and you will learn to swim,” it intones as one girl treads water and another leans over the edge of a boat to observe life on the ocean floor. “Your feet will take many steps, my brave little girl. / Let your heart lead the way.” Girls gingerly step across a brook before making their way through a meadow. The point of all these nebulous metaphors seems to be to inculcate in girls the independence, strength, and confidence they’ll need to succeed in their pursuits. Trying new things, such as foods, is a “delicious new adventure.” Though the quiet, gentle text is filled with uplifting words that parents will intuitively relate to or comprehend, the esoteric messages may be a bit sentimental and ambiguous for kids to understand or even connect to. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10.5-by-19-inch double-page spreads viewed at 50% of actual size.)

Well-meaning and with a lovely presentation, this sentimental effort may be aimed more at adults than kids. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: March 23, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-30072-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Jan. 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2021

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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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