Interesting subject, but the story is less than satisfying.

A STITCH THROUGH TIME

Ava is finally allowed to open Aunt Jo’s mysterious trunk, and what’s inside is more magical than anything Ava could’ve imagined.

Ava, a young Black girl, likens her Aunt Jo’s house to a “fancy museum with curiosities, oddities, and doodads in every corner.” So when Aunt Jo finally gives Ava the key to the trunk she’s been eager to explore, she rushes to unlock it. Inside she finds what she thinks is an old blanket—more like a patchwork quilt. Ava learns that the blanket is made of fabric from gowns created by African American dressmaker and fashion designer Elizabeth Keckley. She and Aunt Jo are magically transported to the past, where they observe Keckley’s work and see the people she made dresses for, like first lady Mary Todd Lincoln. Together, they learn about two other African American modistes of a bygone era: fashion designer Ann Cole Lowe and milliner Mildred Blount. The bold, colorful illustrations are eye-catching and a highlight of the book. The information about the historical figures is presented in a way that feels disconnected from the rest of the story. The narrator’s identity is ambiguous, which is also confusing; the illustrations suggest that Aunt Jo is the narrator, yet the text lacks quotation marks. The book manages to provide interesting facts, but the absence of bibliographic references and backmatter is disappointing.

Interesting subject, but the story is less than satisfying. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 18, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-5037-5928-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Sunbird Books

Review Posted Online: Nov. 16, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2021

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

SNOW PLACE LIKE HOME

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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A close encounter of the best kind.

FIELD TRIP TO THE MOON

Left behind when the space bus departs, a child discovers that the moon isn’t as lifeless as it looks.

While the rest of the space-suited class follows the teacher like ducklings, one laggard carrying crayons and a sketchbook sits down to draw our home planet floating overhead, falls asleep, and wakes to see the bus zooming off. The bright yellow bus, the gaggle of playful field-trippers, and even the dull gray boulders strewn over the equally dull gray lunar surface have a rounded solidity suggestive of Plasticine models in Hare’s wordless but cinematic scenes…as do the rubbery, one-eyed, dull gray creatures (think: those stress-busting dolls with ears that pop out when squeezed) that emerge from the regolith. The mutual shock lasts but a moment before the lunarians eagerly grab the proffered crayons to brighten the bland gray setting with silly designs. The creatures dive into the dust when the bus swoops back down but pop up to exchange goodbye waves with the errant child, who turns out to be an olive-skinned kid with a mop of brown hair last seen drawing one of their new friends with the one crayon—gray, of course—left in the box. Body language is expressive enough in this debut outing to make a verbal narrative superfluous.

A close encounter of the best kind. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: May 14, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-8234-4253-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Margaret Ferguson/Holiday House

Review Posted Online: Feb. 6, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2019

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