Old World storytelling in a sparkling, novel setting—a delight.



A polar bear, a brave boy and an early-20th-century shipwreck play equal roles in this Hanukkah story filled with its own set of miracles.

Simon’s mother lovingly packs food for his voyage to America, including key elements so he can observe Hanukkah: “A little menorah, a box of candles, matches, a dreidel, and plenty of latkes.” The ship, badly damaged after hitting a giant iceberg, begins to sink. Simon generously gives up his spot on a lifeboat to a bearded man in a fur coat desperate to reach his son in New York. Alone, Simon leaps from the ship’s bow onto the iceberg and wonders if on this first night of Hanukkah a miracle might happen to save his life. Soon after, a polar bear climbs the iceberg. Though fearful, Simon shares food and lights the menorah—then sleeps cozily in the warmth of the bear’s fur. This sharing continues for a miraculous seven days until a passing ship’s crew rescues Simon on the last night of Hanukkah. As in the newly revised Hanukkah Bear, illustrated by Mike Wohnoutka (2013), Kimmel effectively uses the large, furry beast to blend themes of miracles, faith and an innocent’s altruism. Trueman’s illustrations, a combination of collage, crushed paper cutouts and acrylics in icy blue tones, create glittery scenes of a desolate ocean offset by warm yellow glows from the menorah candles. His bear is particularly charming.

Old World storytelling in a sparkling, novel setting—a delight. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 2, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4231-4355-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Aug. 12, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2014

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The dynamic interaction between the characters invites readers to take risks, push boundaries, and have a little unscripted...


Reinvention is the name of the game for two blobs of clay.

A blue-eyed gray blob and a brown-eyed brown blob sit side by side, unsure as to what’s going to happen next. The gray anticipates an adventure, while the brown appears apprehensive. A pair of hands descends, and soon, amid a flurry of squishing and prodding and poking and sculpting, a handsome gray wolf and a stately brown owl emerge. The hands disappear, leaving the friends to their own devices. The owl is pleased, but the wolf convinces it that the best is yet to come. An ear pulled here and an extra eye placed there, and before you can shake a carving stick, a spurt of frenetic self-exploration—expressed as a tangled black scribble—reveals a succession of smug hybrid beasts. After all, the opportunity to become a “pig-e-phant” doesn’t come around every day. But the sound of approaching footsteps panics the pair of Picassos. How are they going to “fix [them]selves” on time? Soon a hippopotamus and peacock are staring bug-eyed at a returning pair of astonished hands. The creative naiveté of the “clay mates” is perfectly captured by Petty’s feisty, spot-on dialogue: “This was your idea…and it was a BAD one.” Eldridge’s endearing sculpted images are photographed against the stark white background of an artist’s work table to great effect.

The dynamic interaction between the characters invites readers to take risks, push boundaries, and have a little unscripted fun of their own . (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: June 20, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-316-30311-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2017

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A jam-packed opener sure to satisfy lovers of the princess genre.


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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