Hooray for the Underwear Dragon!

RETURN OF THE UNDERWEAR DRAGON

From the Underwear Dragon series

Tiny Sir Cole (newly knighted, of course) embarks on his latest adventure: to teach the Underwear Dragon how to read.

In need of an assistant, Sir Cole, who presents White, writes an open letter soliciting applicants. The missive inspires a long line of wannabe knights, from “jousting jugglers” to “twin candy hoarders.” Rather than deal with the whole assistant-hiring business, Sir Cole decides to go on a walk. The many “No Dragons Allowed” signs he sees cause him to realize that the Underwear Dragon might not know how to read. Sir Cole sets off. When the tiny knight knocks on the cave door, the Underwear Dragon (still reeling from his defeat in Attack of the Underwear Dragon, 2020) initially refuses to talk to Sir Cole. “That’s right. Underwear Dragons get embarrassed.” Donning a duck disguise, the Underwear Dragon accedes to Sir Cole’s request and begins the hard work of learning how to read. Eventually, frustrations take over, and the Underwear Dragon flies off on a rampage. Right when Sir Cole readies to give up, hope arrives in the form of Claire, a knight-in-waiting Black girl armed with an Outwit Dragon kit. Packed with similar strands of humor as its predecessor, although perhaps with a few more potty jokes thrown in, Rothman and Oswald’s delightful sequel rightly captures the thrills and vexations afflicting all new readers. Now it’s the Underwear Dragon’s turn in the spotlight, and shine he does. The stylized artwork, meanwhile, retains its ability to provoke laughs and sympathy in equal measure.

Hooray for the Underwear Dragon! (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 12, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-11992-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Random House Studio

Review Posted Online: Sept. 15, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2021

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A charming blend of whimsy and medieval heroism highlighting the triumph of brains over brawn.

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KNIGHT OWL

A young owl achieves his grand ambition.

Owl, an adorably earnest and gallant little owlet, dreams of being a knight. He imagines himself defeating dragons and winning favor far and wide through his brave exploits. When a record number of knights go missing, Owl applies to Knight School and is surprisingly accepted. He is much smaller than the other knights-in-training, struggles to wield weapons, and has “a habit of nodding off during the day.” Nevertheless, he graduates and is assigned to the Knight Night Watch. While patrolling the castle walls one night, a hungry dragon shows up and Owl must use his wits to avoid meeting a terrible end. The result is both humorous and heartwarming, offering an affirmation of courage and clear thinking no matter one’s size…and demonstrating the power of a midnight snack. The story never directly addresses the question of the missing knights, but it is hinted that they became the dragon’s fodder, leaving readers to question Owl’s decision to befriend the beast. Humor is supplied by the characters’ facial expressions and accented by the fact that Owl is the only animal in his order of big, burly human knights. Denise’s accomplished digital illustrations—many of which are full bleeds—often use a warm sepia palette that evokes a feeling of antiquity, and some spreads feature a pleasing play of chiaroscuro that creates suspense and drama.

A charming blend of whimsy and medieval heroism highlighting the triumph of brains over brawn. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: March 15, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-316-31062-8

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Christy Ottaviano Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 16, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2022

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A surprisingly nuanced lesson set in confidence-building, easy-to-decode text.

BO'S MAGICAL NEW FRIEND

From the Unicorn Diaries series , Vol. 1

A unicorn learns a friendship lesson in this chapter-book series opener.

Unicorn Bo has friends but longs for a “bestie.” Luckily, a new unicorn pops into existence (literally: Unicorns appear on especially starry nights) and joins Bo at the Sparklegrove School for Unicorns, where they study things like unicorn magic. Each unicorn has a special power; Bo’s is granting wishes. Not knowing what his own might be distresses new unicorn Sunny. When the week’s assignment is to earn a patch by using their unicorn powers to help someone, Bo hopes Sunny will wish to know Bo's power (enabling both unicorns to complete the task, and besides, Bo enjoys Sunny’s company and wants to help him). But when the words come out wrong, Sunny thinks Bo was feigning friendship to get to grant a wish and earn a patch, setting up a fairly sophisticated conflict. Bo makes things up to Sunny, and then—with the unicorns friends again and no longer trying to force their powers—arising circumstances enable them to earn their patches. The cheerful illustrations feature a sherbet palette, using patterns for texture; on busy pages with background colors similar to the characters’ color schemes, this combines with the absence of outlines to make discerning some individual characters a challenge. The format, familiar to readers of Elliott’s Owl Diaries series, uses large print and speech bubbles to keep pages to a manageable amount of text.

A surprisingly nuanced lesson set in confidence-building, easy-to-decode text. (Fantasy. 5-8)

Pub Date: Dec. 26, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-32332-0

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Sept. 29, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2019

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