It’s good to see an active girl in medieval times, but this dragon story never really soars.

BABY DRAGON, BABY DRAGON!

A bright red baby dragon flies around a village of the European past with a young child chasing after.

Readers first spot the child, cued as a girl with long pigtails, pitching hay into a wagon, but all of a sudden, she is in a castle with a sword at her side. She wears a sleeveless green tunic and gray leggings, and it is hard to tell who she is within the hierarchy of her world. She speaks to the dragon: “Baby dragon, baby dragon, what a fast flight!” Marr uses this admiring, repetitive, rhythmic phrasing throughout the story but lets readers down by following up not with a rhyme but with bland prose text: “Baby dragon, baby dragon, what a big climb! / You scale tall walls and go up so high.” The girl clearly enjoys keeping up with the fun-loving dragon, flying on its back, looking at its treasures, and even cuddling up in its nest, but the text is persistently pedestrian. There is a strong sense of movement in the cartoonlike illustrations, created with both traditional and digital media. The child protagonist is light-skinned; some diversity among the kingdom’s inhabitants is shown in an amusing feasting scene in which the dragon fastidiously eats with the very tip of its tail, a bib around its neck.

It’s good to see an active girl in medieval times, but this dragon story never really soars. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: March 26, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-399-17525-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Nancy Paulsen Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 5, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2019

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Energetic and earnest but not groundbreaking.

I'M NOT SCARED, YOU'RE SCARED

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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A first-rate sharkfest, unusually nutritious for all its brevity.

FLY GUY PRESENTS: SHARKS

From the Fly Guy series

Buzz and his buzzy buddy open a spinoff series of nonfiction early readers with an aquarium visit.

Buzz: “Like other fish, sharks breathe through gills.” Fly Guy: “GILLZZ.” Thus do the two pop-eyed cartoon tour guides squire readers past a plethora of cramped but carefully labeled color photos depicting dozens of kinds of sharks in watery settings, along with close-ups of skin, teeth and other anatomical features. In the bite-sized blocks of narrative text, challenging vocabulary words like “carnivores” and “luminescence” come with pronunciation guides and lucid in-context definitions. Despite all the flashes of dentifrice and references to prey and smelling blood in the water, there is no actual gore or chowing down on display. Sharks are “so cool!” proclaims Buzz at last, striding out of the gift shop. “I can’t wait for our next field trip!” (That will be Fly Guy Presents: Space, scheduled for September 2013.)

A first-rate sharkfest, unusually nutritious for all its brevity. (Informational easy reader. 5-7)

Pub Date: May 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-545-50771-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Feb. 18, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2013

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