Fans of both paranormal characters and ballet will like this; others should stick with a traditional interpretation of the...

ZOMBELINA DANCES THE NUTCRACKER

From the Zombelina series

Young Zombelina wins the part of Clara in The Nutcracker, but her Grandpa Phantom causes problems during a performance.

Zombelina is the only zombie girl in the cast of The Nutcracker. Her best friend, Lizzie, is cast in the chorus, but the girls support each other and remain friends. Zombelina’s grandfather haunts the theater, and during a performance he alters the lighting so the bones of all the dancers show through their costumes. It’s not clear what the exact paranormal effect is here—magical paralysis? Temporary electrocution? Only Grandpa Phantom knows for sure. Zombelina asks Lizzie to take over her part so the young zombie can deal with her grandfather backstage. The switch is effected by Zombelina’s actual removal of her legs, which she lends to Lizzie for the rest of the performance. Lizzie is supposed to tuck her legs up in her costume and dance on Zombelina’s legs, but the mechanics of this switch aren’t clear or believable. The performance ends with Zombelina back on stage with the cast for a standing ovation—and one of Zombelina’s legs on the loose. There are some funny zombie-themed jokes woven into the story, and Zombelina is an intriguing character, but there are too many leaps in logic in the plot. Colored-pencil illustrations give the green-faced Zombelina personality, and Idle does a fine job with the ballet positions and complex stage scenes.

Fans of both paranormal characters and ballet will like this; others should stick with a traditional interpretation of the holiday classic. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 8, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-6196-3640-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: Aug. 12, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2015

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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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An honest look at motherhood in the contemporary era and a sweet tribute to the bond between mother and child.

ALWAYS WITH YOU, ALWAYS WITH ME

Grammy-winning, multiplatinum singer/songwriter Rowland teams up with California teacher McKay to celebrate busy moms.

This picture book highlights a mother’s frequent longing to be with her child when life’s demands pull them apart. The story takes us through a busy Black mom’s week: She goes to work (at a construction site where she appears to be an engineer), works from home on her son’s sick day, takes him to a museum, and shares domestic duties with her Black male partner, who is a nurse. She encounters many bumps in the road that will be familiar to working parents. Each day, she gently reassures her son with a lyrical refrain: “Always with you, / Always with me, / Mommy and child / Together we’ll be.” This tender story, narrated in the voice of a mother addressing her child, pulls at the heartstrings. Liem’s digital artwork uses a warm palette and has a calming quality. The characters’ body language and heartfelt facial expressions are spot-on. This book will resonate with any mom who knows the heartache of having to say goodbye to their child or who has faced the teary-eyed frustration of a youngster experiencing separation anxiety. Young readers, on the other hand, will find solace in the reassuring narrative. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

An honest look at motherhood in the contemporary era and a sweet tribute to the bond between mother and child. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: April 26, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-46551-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2022

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