Sibling feuds are seldom so tidily resolved, but rarely has the suggestion been so prettily made that they could be.

THE SEVEN PRINCESSES

Seven princesses are inseparable until “the biggest fight in the entire history of princess fighting” leaves them all sulking in separate towers.

Though Coh’s claim that the princesses “could not have been more different” is an overstatement, she does give them a range of clothing styles, skin hues (their royal mom has darker skin than their ginger-haired, white dad), and individual interests. The eldest, Rosamund, loves “math and building,” for instance, while Indigo is a swimmer, and little Violet is into “basically anything involving the arts.” They live in a pointy-roofed castle set amid trees that look like bunches of balloons—until the fight, after which the colors drain away to a few pale highlights on dull beige, and the entire land is left in barren, dreary silence. Finally, one “extra gray day,” Violet finds an old crayon drawing of all seven smiling together, and as it makes each princess recall happier times, the illustrations brighten again. By the end, the royal clan harmoniously gathers for a new family portrait (with lots of flowers and kittens underfoot for extra cuteness). Neither the touchstone drawing nor the cascade of minor complaints that caused the spat is particularly memorable; it’s the story’s overall arc and the herd of wide-eyed, expressively posed, doll-like princesses that will likely make the stronger impressions on young readers.

Sibling feuds are seldom so tidily resolved, but rarely has the suggestion been so prettily made that they could be. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: May 24, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-7624-5587-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Running Press Kids

Review Posted Online: March 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2016

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An effective early chapter book conveyed in a slightly overdone gag.

DEAR BEAST

Epistolary dispatches from the eternal canine/feline feud.

Simon the cat is angry. He had done a good job taking care of his boy, Andy, but now that Andy’s parents are divorced, a dog named Baxter has moved into Andy’s dad’s house. Simon believes that there isn’t enough room in Andy’s life for two furry friends, so he uses the power of the pen to get Baxter to move out. Inventively for the early-chapter-book format, the story is told in letters written back and forth; Simon’s are impeccably spelled on personalized stationery while Baxter’s spelling slowly improves through the letters he scrawls on scraps of paper. A few other animals make appearances—a puffy-lipped goldfish who for some reason punctuates her letter with “Blub…blub…” seems to be the only female character (cued through stereotypical use of eyelashes and red lipstick), and a mustachioed snail ferries the mail to and fro. White-appearing Andy is seen playing with both animals as a visual background to the text, as is his friend Noah (a dark-skinned child who perhaps should not be nicknamed “N Man”). Cat lovers will appreciate Simon’s prickliness while dog aficionados will likely enjoy Baxter’s obtuse enthusiasm, and all readers will learn about the time and patience it takes to overcome conflict and jealousy with someone you dislike.

An effective early chapter book conveyed in a slightly overdone gag. (Fiction. 6-8)

Pub Date: May 12, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-8234-4492-2

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: Jan. 21, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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A second scintillating celebration of personal style and dad-daughter DIY.

THE ONE AND ONLY SPARKELLA MAKES A PLAN

From the Sparkella series , Vol. 2

Reality puts only a temporary damper on big, glittery plans for a sleepover castle.

New school friend Tam, who shared bánh mi at lunch in The One and Only Sparkella (2021), is arriving in two hours, and before that Sparkella needs to make a castle “fit for two royal highnesses.” Unfortunately, even with Dad’s help, the flimsy cardboard construction collapses as soon as Sparkella climbs inside to test it. What to do? After giving the pouting princess some personal time in the garage, Dad points the way: “I think you have to take what you have and make it SPARKLE like only you can.” And, indeed, by the time brown-skinned “Tam, Queen of Kittens” is dropped off by her grandma, a pair of folding tables have been transformed with paint, wrapping paper, and colorful fabrics into the sparkliest castle ever! Laying on saturated colors and sprays of tiny stars with a lavish hand, Barnes depicts the two young “royals” in flamboyantly decorated settings—even Dad’s motorcycle is a dazzling confection awash in bows, and Dad himself, light-skinned like Sparkella, isn’t the least decorative element considering his fondness for sporting a purple boa and outrageous eyewear when occasion demands. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A second scintillating celebration of personal style and dad-daughter DIY. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: May 31, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-250-75076-1

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Review Posted Online: June 1, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2022

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