Far from your everyday Halloween tale.

WHEN PUMPKINS FLY

When Halloween comes to an Inuit community in the Canadian Arctic, some “passengers” arrive concurrently on the last cargo flight in October.

After the school principal hears that plane’s engines, she requests some of its cargo for her pupils: pumpkins, the first ones local kids have seen. The young narrator wonders about this thing in the classroom and what to do with it, but pretty soon the children are carving a face and placing a candle in the pumpkin; afterward, they snack on its insides. The narrator takes the pumpkin home and places it on the porch before dressing up for trick-or-treating. After collecting a sackful of candy, the narrator imagines the tunnaat, “ancient and wise beings” that “live out on the land,” taking his pumpkin that night on one of their regular visits. In the art, Sandland and Lawrence depict a smiling, shadowy being who is clearly thrilled to see the pumpkins. This brief, upbeat Canadian import sets a familiar holiday against a cultural backdrop that rarely sees such fare in books. Young readers south of the Arctic will enjoy seeing how the holiday plays out in the far north, where pumpkins do not grow; those for whom Arctic Halloweens are commonplace will appreciate a story that includes their own customs in the celebration. A guide to the pronunciation of two Inuktitut words used and a website for language resources are included, but there is no glossary. Illustrations feature vivid colors; children’s skin tones are light brown. (This book was reviewed digitally with 8.5-by-19-inch double-page spreads viewed at 87.2% of actual size.)

Far from your everyday Halloween tale. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 8, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-77227-249-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Inhabit Media

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2020

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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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Sweet, reassuring fun—and a story to fully embrace.

SLUG IN LOVE

A slug longs for a hug and finds it unexpectedly.

Doug the slug would really like a hug and plods on, seeking affection. But a caterpillar, bug, spider, and worm want no part of hugging a slug. They are just not feeling it (might they feel sluggish?), voicing their disdain in no uncertain terms with expressions like, “Grimy, slippy!” and “Squelchy, slimy!” What’s a slug to do? Undeterred, Doug keeps trying. He meets Gail, a snail with crimson lipstick and hip, red glasses; she happens to be as grimy and squelchy as he is, so he figures she is the hugger of his dreams. The two embark upon a madcap romantic courtship. Alas, Gail also draws the (slimy) line at hugging Doug. Finally, mournful Doug meets the best hugger and the true love of his life, proving there’s someone for everyone. This charmer will have readers rooting for Doug (and perhaps even wanting to hug him). Expressed in simple, jaunty verses that read and scan smoothly, the brief tale revolves around words that mainly rhyme with Doug and slug. Given that the story stretches vocabulary so well with regard to rhyming words, children can be challenged after a read-aloud session to offer up words that rhyme with slug and snail. The colorful and humorous illustrations are lively and cheerful; googly-eyed Doug is, like the other characters, entertaining and expressive. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Sweet, reassuring fun—and a story to fully embrace. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Dec. 14, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-66590-046-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Paula Wiseman/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2021

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