Rather tame animal adventures for new graphic-novel readers.

EXPEDITION BACKYARD

EXPLORING NATURE FROM COUNTRY TO CITY

Two animal friends learn about the great outdoors in the city and country and form the Adventurers Club.

Mole and Vole are opposites. Mole is tentative, cautious, and artistic; Vole craves danger and adventures. But while the duo’s friendship will feel familiar to readers of Elephant and Piggie and Frog and Toad, it’s not as well developed as those others, the dialogue often feels forced, and the true facts shared about animals encountered can feel didactic. In five chapters, the two share adventures near their country homes, inside a human home on a rainy day, and in the city after Vole’s curiosity lands the two in a moving box. Large panels in each chapter allow those new to graphic novels to follow along, and a final double-page spread in most summarizes the adventure in Mole’s sketchings. In between, an overhead view with a colored dotted line and multiple sightings of the adventurers, whose numbers swell to five club members, shows their route and the many things they spy. In the background is the subplot of a Black family’s move to the city and the initial loneliness and first friendship of their little girl. While body language and facial expressions are clear for most of the anthropomorphized animals, young children may have trouble with Vole; her heavy-lined eyebrows frequently make her look angry when she is meant to feel determined or excited.

Rather tame animal adventures for new graphic-novel readers. (how-to’s: draw Mole and Vole, keep a nature journal, join a community garden, stop birds from hitting windows, be a good cat owner, compost at home; about the creators) (Graphic fiction. 5-9)

Pub Date: June 21, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-12734-6

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Random House Graphic

Review Posted Online: May 11, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2022

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The message is worthy, but this phoned-in follow-up doesn’t add anything significant.

THE WORLD NEEDS MORE PURPLE SCHOOLS

From the My Purple World series

A color-themed vision of what school should be like.

In what amounts to a rehash of The World Needs More Purple People (2020), Bell and Hart address adult as well as young readers to explain what “curious and kind you” can do to make school, or for that matter the universe, a better place. Again culminating in the vague but familiar “JUST. BE. YOU!” the program remains much the same—including asking questions both “universe-sized” (“Could you make a burrito larger than a garbage truck?”) and “smaller, people-sized” (i.e., personal), working hard to learn and make things, offering praise and encouragement, speaking up and out, laughing together, and listening to others. In the illustrations, light-skinned, blond-haired narrator Penny poses amid a busy, open-mouthed, diverse cast that includes a child wearing a hijab and one who uses a wheelchair. Wiseman opts to show fewer grown-ups here, but the children are the same as in the earlier book, and a scene showing two figures blowing chocolate milk out of their noses essentially recycles a visual joke from the previous outing. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

The message is worthy, but this phoned-in follow-up doesn’t add anything significant. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: June 21, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-43490-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: April 27, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2022

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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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