Three lively and super reads to highlight here, courtesy of my very kind partner Candlewick Press/Penguin Random House Canada: The Princess in Black and the Science Fair Scare, Interrupting Chicken and the Elephant of Surprise, and Do You Believe in Unicorns?.
The Princess in Black and the Science Fair Scare (Princess in Black #6) by Shannon Hale and Dean Hale, illus. by LeUyen Pham. The sixth entry in the hugely popular (and much loved) Princess in Black chapter book series,The Princess in Black and the Science Fair Scare finds Princess Magnolia “feeling excited and nervous” as she gears up for the Interkingdom Science Fair to present her project: “a poster that show[s] how seeds grow into plants”. With her friend the Goat Avenger looking after the goat pasture, Princess Magnolia decides to leave her “monster-alarm ring” behind. But when Princess Magnolia meets up with her friends at the fair- and their incredible projects- she discovers that Tommy Wigtower’s cool volcano project might just be filled with a scary, grumpy goo monster! Princess Magnolia quickly transforms into her secret identity, and along with help from the mysterious Princess in Blankets (introduced in the last book), and her other friends, they come up with a plan to combat the goo monster. The ending of this sixth entry leaves a great opening or two for new, fun directions that the next Princess in Black titles can take! The Princess in Black series has carved out its popularity in the hearts of young readers- the series is pretty much a staple in our library!- with Shannon Hale and Dean Hale’s wonderful protagonist (and supporting characters), fun storylines, positivity, and always-amazing, sunny illustrations by LeUyen Pham.
Interrupting Chicken and the Elephant of Surprise (Interrupting Chicken #2) by David Ezra Stein. The sequel to David Ezra Stein’s terrifically funny- and Caldecott Honor–winning!- Interrupting Chicken, Interrupting Chicken and the Elephant of Surprise sees the return of the indefatigable little red chicken who so delighted readers in book one. When Chicken gets home after school, she tells her papa all about what she learned that day: “…today my teacher told us every story has an elephant of surprise. So let’s read a story, and we’ll find the elephant”. As her father gently corrects her by noting that it is actually called an “element of surprise…the part of the story that makes you say, ‘Whoa!'”, Chicken is already off looking for stories to read so that they can find the elusive elephant of surprise. And wouldn’t you know it, classics like The Ugly Duckling, Rapunzel, and The Little Mermaid all have elephants in them?! (Poor Papa is a bit worn out at the end of all of the elephant surprises). Following the successful format of the book one (of fractured stories within the main story), Interrupting Chicken and the Elephant of Surprise is just as delightful, giggle-inducing and clever as the first Interrupting Chicken tale.
Do You Believe in Unicorns? by Bethanie Deeney Murguia. This a such a beguiling, positively sparkling picture book! “Hey look- it’s a horse in a hat”, begins Do You Believe in Unicorns; and indeed, the reader can see that there is an adorable horse wearing a tall, jaunty, red hat. The narrator of the story, however, then continues with, “No, I do not think it could be a unicorn in disguise. That’s ridiculous.”. Hmm. Now that’s an intriguing comment to make! That’s something to think about here…Is this creature a horse wearing a hat, or might it actually be a unicorn wearing a tall hat (to accommodate or hide its horn)? As the narrator continues talking to the readers, trying to convince themselves and the audience with reasons why this hat-wearing creature is most probably- no, most definitely- a hat-wearing horse, they stop short at the scene of the horse wearing its hat when sitting down to enjoy tea because… wouldn’t a horse “take its hat off for tea”? Wouldn’t they? With this new information to digest, our narrator begins to open the door to possibility…and the incredibly potent magic of believing in something. Bethanie Deeney Murguia’s story, with its tight and perfect text and adorable and dreamy art, is a prime candidate for a wondrous read-aloud, and one sure to thrill readers upon each and every read. Pair with Unicorn (and Horse) by David W. Miles and Hollie Mengert for a truly excellent fix of magic! (Be sure to check out the back of Do You Believe in Unicorns? for a “Make your own magic!” idea).
I received copies of these titles courtesy of Candlewick Press/Penguin Random House Canada in exchange for honest reviews. All opinions and comments are my own. All titles have been published and are currently available.