Pretty—but hampered by the wordy text.

A FORT ON THE MOON

Two brothers use junk and ingenuity to create a spaceship to journey to the moon.

Fox and Dodge have been rocketing back and forth to the moon for some time now, but this trip will be special—they will leave a fort behind. However, when the building gets tough, it takes a little wisdom and some “crazy dance moves” from big brother Fox to help get the job done. When the pair proudly arrives home and mom wonders about the odds and ends that have mysteriously disappeared, they share a secret glance and an answer: “outer space.” There’s lots of warm, child-friendly character as the brothers make “moon angels” and use old car seats as a cockpit, but the way the narrative tries to straddle the line between imaginary journey and fantasy isn’t quite successful. With a lengthy, meandering text, it’s too long for little ones who might still believe the moon can be reached by homemade rocket, and older children who can sit through a reading may find the “did it really happen” concept trite. The earnest message that perseverance pays off edges uncomfortably into life-lesson territory. Still, the luscious watercolors that capture snug domestic scenes, the frantic, tumultuous fort-building sequence, and, most especially, the sweeping double-page spreads of the velvety, star-filled night sky are worth a look. The kids are racially ambiguous, with beige skin and dark hair.

Pretty—but hampered by the wordy text. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-8234-4657-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Neal Porter/Holiday House

Review Posted Online: Sept. 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2020

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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 nicely inventive little morality “tail” for newly independent readers.

THE INFAMOUS RATSOS

From the Infamous Ratsos series , Vol. 1

Two little rats decide to show the world how tough they are, with unpredictable results.

Louie and Ralphie Ratso want to be just like their single dad, Big Lou: tough! They know that “tough” means doing mean things to other animals, like stealing Chad Badgerton’s hat. Chad Badgerton is a big badger, so taking that hat from him proves that Louie and Ralphie are just as tough as they want to be. However, it turns out that Louie and Ralphie have just done a good deed instead of a bad one: Chad Badgerton had taken that hat from little Tiny Crawley, a mouse, so when Tiny reclaims it, they are celebrated for goodness rather than toughness. Sadly, every attempt Louie and Ralphie make at doing mean things somehow turns nice. What’s a little boy rat supposed to do to be tough? Plus, they worry about what their dad will say when he finds out how good they’ve been. But wait! Maybe their dad has some other ideas? LaReau keeps the action high and completely appropriate for readers embarking on chapter books. Each of the first six chapters features a new, failed attempt by Louie and Ralphie to be mean, and the final, seventh chapter resolves everything nicely. The humor springs from their foiled efforts and their reactions to their failures. Myers’ sprightly grayscale drawings capture action and characters and add humorous details, such as the Ratsos’ “unwelcome” mat.

A nicely inventive little morality “tail” for newly independent readers. (Fiction. 5-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 2, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-7636-7636-0

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: May 4, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2016

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