Cheerful and bright, this heroine calls for authenticity and representation.


Amy Wu flexes her problem-solving skills again in this sequel to Amy Wu and the Perfect Bao (2019).

After reading them a story about dragons, Ms. Mary has Amy and her classmates design their own dragons. While her classmates quickly fill the show-and-tell table with winged, pot-bellied dragons fashioned with modeling clay and stamps, Amy struggles. At first she paints a thin, long-bodied dragon inspired by Eastern cultures, but her classmates are confused and challenge the authenticity of her creation since it is a departure from the Western dragons showcased during storytime. The straightforward text narrates as Amy doubts her design, eventually drawing Western dragons yet still feeling dissatisfied. Accompanied by her classmates Willa and Sam, Amy returns home to Grandma, who tells the trio tales about Asian dragons, which causes Amy to remember the dragon costume used during Chinese New Year that’s stored in the attic. Inspired, Amy is finally able to showcase a dragon at school that takes a bit from both cultures and is a design she can call entirely her own. Chua again brings plenty of colorful spirit with her cartoons, perfectly capturing Amy’s fun, creative energy and surrounding her Chinese protagonist with a diverse school community. (Sam has brown skin and straight, black hair, and Willa presents White.) What is even more appealing is the courage Amy models to readers to stay true to oneself, especially when faced with a lack of role models. (This book was reviewed digitally with 9-by-22-inch double-page spreads viewed at 78.8% of actual size.)

Cheerful and bright, this heroine calls for authenticity and representation. (crafts) (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Dec. 15, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5344-6363-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2020

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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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Energetic and earnest but not groundbreaking.


Unlikely friends Bear and Rabbit face fears together.

The anthropomorphic creatures set out on an adventure. Graphic-based illustrations give the book a Pixar movie feel, with a variety of page layouts that keep the story moving. Large blocks of black text are heavy on dialogue patterns as timid Bear and bold Rabbit encounter obstacles. Bear fears every one of them, from the stream to the mountain. He’ll do anything to avoid the objects of terror: taking a bus, a train, and even a helicopter. As Rabbit asks Bear if he’s frightened, Bear repeatedly responds, “I’m not scared, you’re scared!” and children will delight in the call-and-response opportunities. Adults may tire of the refrain, but attempts to keep everyone entertained are evident in asides about Bear's inability to brush food from his teeth (he’s too afraid to look at himself in the mirror) and Rabbit's superstrong ears (which do come in handy later). When Rabbit finds herself in danger after Bear defects on the adventure, Bear retraces the trip. Along the way, he notes that the stream wasn't as deep, nor the mountain as high, as he thought when he was scared. While picture-book shelves may not be screaming for another comedically sweet bear story, especially one that treads such familiar territory, many readers will appreciate this tale of overcoming fears. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Energetic and earnest but not groundbreaking. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: March 15, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-35237-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Flamingo Books

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2022

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