LILLYBELLE

A DAMSEL NOT IN DISTRESS

A damsel-in-training saves her own skin.

LillyBelle adores tea parties, but she is not the standard student at Lady Frilly’s School for Damsels: She enjoys playing loud music and baking absurdly tall cakes. LillyBelle also refuses to accept Lady Frilly’s lesson that damsels are meant to be kidnapped and saved, never to properly fend for themselves. One day, while out playing hopscotch, LillyBelle is abducted by a witch, but LillyBelle isn’t afraid. Instead of waiting for a prince or a knight or a wizard to save her, LillyBelle takes matters into her own hands to decide her own fate. But for LillyBelle, escaping the witch is just the beginning of a long journey back home that finds her using her baking skills, fondness for loud music, and even Lady Frilly’s deportment lessons to return home unharmed. Pastro effectively uses both the traditional rule of three and oft-seen fairy-tale characters to subvert a particularly pernicious fairy-tale trope. The picture book’s lessons of self-empowerment, the importance of dialogue, and the value of understanding are efficiently rendered, aided by rounded, earth-toned illustrations that create a grounded fairy-tale world little readers will enjoy. LillyBelle has beige skin and fluffy black hair; her classmates are somewhat diverse. (This book was reviewed digitally with 11-by-17-inch double-page spreads viewed at 13% of actual size.)

An empowering fairy tale. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 8, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-63592-296-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Boyds Mills

Review Posted Online: June 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2020

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Nice enough, but its twinkle is on the faint side.

TWINKLE TWINKLE LITTLE KID

A boy gets an unusual payoff after wishing on a star.

Sitting outside one night, Clyde notices a lone star in the sky. He recites the “Star light, star bright” incantation and makes a wish. Disappointed when it doesn’t come true, he returns home. But later, while he’s asleep, the star he’d wished on sneaks into his bedroom and makes a wish on him! Startled awake, Clyde wonders how to grant Star’s wish. He shares some ideas (and actual objects) with her: a game of checkers, tent camping, tossing a Frisbee, and walkie-talkies. Star likes them, but they’re not her wishes; Clyde confides there’s no one to enjoy them with—and wonders if perhaps Star had wished for a friend. No one will be surprised at what Clyde next confesses to Star. The pair winds up playing together and becoming besties. This is a sweet but thin and predictable story about making friends. Still, readers will appreciate meeting feisty, celestial Star. The author reaches for humor using colloquialisms (“freaked out”), and kids will like the comfortable familiarity that develops between the cheery protagonists. The colored-pencil illustrations are rendered in a limited palette of mostly dark blues and purples, appropriate to the nighttime setting. Star is a luminous, pale yellow with a white topknot and has a star-dappled aura around her. Purple-pj’d Clyde wears bunny slippers and presents White. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Nice enough, but its twinkle is on the faint side. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 3, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-399-17132-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2021

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

An expertly crafted, soulful, and humorous work that tenderly explores identity, culture, and the bond between father and...

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2016

  • Kirkus Prize
  • Kirkus Prize
    finalist

  • New York Times Bestseller

THUNDER BOY JR.

Thunder Boy Smith Jr. hates his name.

The Native American boy is named after his father, whose nickname is Big Thunder. Thunder Boy Jr. says his nickname, Little Thunder, makes him "sound like a burp or a fart." Little Thunder loves his dad, but he longs for a name that celebrates something special about him alone. He muses, “I love playing in the dirt, so maybe my name should be Mud in His Ears.…I love powwow dancing. I’m a grass dancer. So maybe my name should be Drums, Drums, and More Drums!” Little Thunder wonders how he can express these feelings to his towering father. However, he need not worry. Big Thunder knows that the time has come for his son to receive a new name, one as vibrant as his blossoming personality. Morales’ animated mixed-media illustrations, reminiscent of her Pura Belpré Award–winning work in Niño Wrestles the World (2013), masterfully use color and perspective to help readers see the world from Little Thunder’s point of view. His admiration of his dad is manifest in depictions of Big Thunder as a gentle giant of a man. The otherwise-muted palette bursts with color as Thunder Boy Jr. proudly enumerates the unique qualities and experiences that could inspire his new name.

An expertly crafted, soulful, and humorous work that tenderly explores identity, culture, and the bond between father and son. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: May 10, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-316-01372-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: March 16, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2016

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more