This is one journey to skip.

MY HEAD IN THE CLOUDS

A child embarks on an imaginary international journey, using many conveyances, in recalling all the items lost on previous trips.

The text, originally French, is in four-line stanzas, mostly in an aabb rhyming pattern, that are occasionally awkward in English: “In the deep, black waters of Loch Ness, / my mind wandered off and I forgot my address! / When I saw a yeti trying to get a fishy bite, / my stomach floated off and I lost my appetite.” In the accompanying spread, the child helms a yellow submarine, a green Nessie swims nearby, and a large white creature on a boat tries to grab fish with a net. Two fish have some writing on their bodies: the forgotten address? Happily, there appears to be no image of the stomach or the appetite that has floated off. Although the last page, with its short list of facts about some places mentioned, instructs readers to look for the lost items, some ephemeral items seem impossible to find. Concrete objects can be found with close looking: a jacket at the bottom of the Grand Canyon, a scarf around the neck of the Statue of Liberty, both mentioned in the accompanying text. Some items are more metaphorical. Can readers “find my mind” as the girl requests, when she ventures into outer space? Although the whimsical multimedia illustrations are often engaging, this world journey offers little engagement with people and a very cursory view of iconic sights.

This is one journey to skip. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4598-2178-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Orca

Review Posted Online: June 25, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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A strong series start.

GAME OVER, SUPER RABBIT BOY!

From the Press Start! series , Vol. 1

In a video game, a superpowered rabbit must rescue a singing dog that brings everyone happiness.

In the frame story, a brown-skinned human protagonist plays a video game on a handheld console evocative of the classic Nintendo Gameboy. The bulk of the book relates the game’s storyline: Animal Town is a peaceful place where everyone is delighted by Singing Dog, until the fun-hating King Viking (whose black-mustachioed, pink-skinned looks reference the Super Mario Brothers game series villain, Wario) uses his army of robots to abduct Singing Dog. To save Singing Dog—and fun—the animals send the fastest among them, Simon the Hedgehog, to get Super Rabbit Boy (who gains speed and jumping powers by eating special carrots) to save the day. The chapters take Super Rabbit Boy through video game levels, with classic, video game–style settings and enemies. Throughout the book, when the game’s player loses either a life in the game or the game entirely, the unnamed kid must choose to persevere and not give up. The storylines are differentiated by colorful art styles—cartoonish for the real world, 8-bit pixel-sprite–style for the game. The fast, repetitive plot uses basic, simple sentences and child-friendly objects of interest, such as lakes of lava, for children working on reading independence, while the nerdy in-jokes benefit adults reading with a child.

A strong series start. (Early reader. 5-7)

Pub Date: Jan. 3, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-338-03472-1

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Branches/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Sept. 19, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2016

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A chuckle-inducing, entirely worthy stand-alone follow-up to the terrific The Princess in Black (2014).

THE PRINCESS IN BLACK AND THE PERFECT PRINCESS PARTY

From the Princess in Black series , Vol. 2

Princess Magnolia’s perfect birthday party’s threatened by constant monster alarms, summoning her secret identity again and again.

Prim, proper Princess Magnolia is all decked out in her pink finery, awaiting the arrival of a dozen ethnically diverse fellow-princess party guests for her birthday when her monster-alarm ring goes off. She changes attire and personas, becoming the heroic Princess in Black. Working swiftly, she saves a goat from a hungry monster and gets back to her palace in time to welcome her guests. But just when she thinks she’s in the clear and ready to open her presents, off goes her monster-alarm ring again! This pattern—Magnolia is just about to open presents when her alarm goes off, she comes up with a distraction for the princesses, defeats a monster, and returns just in time—continues through the book. It’s enhanced by visual gags, such as Magnolia’s increasingly flustered appearance, and hilarious depictions of the various ways monsters try to eat goats, from between giant pieces of bread to in a giant ice cream cone. A side character, the fittingly named Princess Sneezewort, frequently comes close to discovering Magnolia’s secret. In the end, Magnolia can’t take the constant interruptions anymore, yelling at a monster that it’s her birthday—the monster, abashed, ends up helping her in one last distraction for the other princesses.

A chuckle-inducing, entirely worthy stand-alone follow-up to the terrific The Princess in Black (2014). (Fantasy. 5-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 13, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-7636-6511-1

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: June 29, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2015

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