PUFF THE MAGIC DRAGON

A lovely—and indeed magical—shift and the beloved anthem becomes quite a satisfying read-aloud for children (and adults). Co-author Lipton says he had no idea that there was a Hanalei Bay with a lava cave just the right size for a dragon, but that’s where Puff lives in Honalee. And though Jackie Paper grows up too much to stay with Puff, in the final images he brings his daughter to frolic with the dragon. Puybaret’s acrylic-on-linen paintings have smooth edges, elongated shapes and rich matte colors as well as Bosch-ian touches: On Honalee there are peopleflies instead of dragonflies; the dolphins sport mortarboards and gondolier T-shirts; the deeply non-ferocious pirate captain has a hook and an eye patch all the same. A CD with four songs, two of them versions of “Puff,” makes a very nice package indeed, especially since Yarrow sings with his daughter. (Picture book and CD. 4-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2007

ISBN: 978-1-4027-4782-3

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Sterling

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2007

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A slim, feel-good story, as light and airy as the rainbows that grace its pages.

NOT QUITE NARWHAL

Being true to yourself means embracing differences and striding (or paddling) fearlessly into the world.

Emerging from a giant clam, baby unicorn Kelp lives among narwhals, believing he’s just not as good as everyone else at swimming, appreciating a squid dinner, or breathing underwater (he sports a glass diving helmet—with a gasket-encircled hole for his horn). Swept close to shore one day, he spies for the first time an adult unicorn and, struck by the resemblance to himself, totters onto solid ground. The “land narwhals” explain to him that they—and he—are unicorns. Kelp’s blissful new life of learning to do special unicorn things amid sparkles and rainbows is punctuated by sadness over the narwhal friends he left behind. Upon returning to his watery home, Kelp learns that the narwhals knew all along that he was actually a unicorn. Following a brief internal tussle over where he truly belongs, Kelp recognizes that he doesn’t have to be just one thing or another and happily unites his friends at the shoreline. As seen in Sima’s soft, digital illustrations, Kelp is adorable, and she evokes both undersea and aboveground environments artfully. The message is an appealing one that could speak to many family situations relating to multiple identities, but the central dilemma is resolved so quickly and easily that there is little room for emotional engagement.

A slim, feel-good story, as light and airy as the rainbows that grace its pages. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Feb. 14, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4814-6909-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2016

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Simply delightful (with a wry final twist).

INVASION OF THE UNICORNS

When an alien unicorn descends to Earth, its mission morphs from embedded surveillance of an Earth family to just plain fun.

Bubble07’s log entries, addressed “Dear Fearless Leader,” comprise the narration. “You were right. We look exactly like the toy animals here.” Should the unicorn army invade Earth? To find out, Bubble07 wriggles into an arcade’s glass box full of plushy prizes and gets hooked by a dad for his daughter. (Dad and daughter present Black; mom, seen later, is a woman of color.) About Earthling Daughter, Bubble07 reports: “She loves her toys. She loves them to pieces! Some are missing their eyeballs. Is this going to happen to me?” Biedrzycki’s expert illustrations form a hilarious counterpoint to the alien’s clueless reportage. They begin in grayscale, accented by Bubble07’s otherworldly streams of neon-hued sparkles, as the spy experiences family camping and “show and share” at school. The jealous family sheepdog tries to bury Bubble07 in the backyard, but revenge is sweet: At night, discovering “amazing” peanut butter cookies, the spy leaves the empty bag next to the sleeping dog. “Fearless Leader…I must get this cookie recipe for our planet.” By Day 50, a snow day, full-color spreads depict the unicorn integrating into family life, experiencing Earthling Daughter’s birthday, cuddly bedtime stories, and a sick day as stand-in comfort animal. On the home planet, Bubble07’s final report recommends: “forget the invasion and send more of us to Earth for… / …a Unicorn Vacation!”

Simply delightful (with a wry final twist). (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 19, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-62354-272-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Charlesbridge

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2021

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