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Jampires

Sarah McIntyre and David O%E2%80%99Connell. Scholastic/Fickling, $16.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-545-81663-2

When Sam’s doughnut is left “wrinkly and dry,” completely drained of its filling, who could be to blame? Two suspicious fangmarks are the only clue. Sam won’t stand for this kind of insult, so he “set a trap before going to bed/ and used his dry doughnut as bait./ In place of the jam he used ketchup instead,/ then hid under the covers to wait.” His laundry-basket trap nabs two pale “jampires” with enormous round eyes, pointy-eared hoods, and lips red with jam (or, at the moment, ketchup). Though jam and blood look a lot alike, McIntyre and O’Connell play this story for laughs—there’s never a moment of concern that the jampires might turn their fangs on Sam. Instead, they apologize profusely (they simply wandered too far from home and got hungry) and take the boy on a whirlwind tour of the Candyland-like “land of the Jampires,” which is filled with mountainous desserts and layer-cake cities, as well as cookies, macarons, and other goodies. Galloping verse and cartoons dusted with humor and magic add up to a light, dessert-themed mystery that’s both silly and sweet. Ages 3–5. (June)

Reviewed on 05/22/2015 | Details & Permalink

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The Ladybug Race

Amy Nielander. PomegranateKids (pomegranate.com), $19.95 (40p) ISBN 978-0-7649-7187-7

Two checkered lines sit at the far edges of debut author-illustrator Nielander’s clever and nicely designed picture book. They mark the start and finish of the race referred to in the title, and more than 100 red, pink, orange, and gold specimens (drawn actual size) are crammed along the left margin, waiting for the contest to begin. Each page turn reveals the race’s progress—seen from above, the ladybugs surge forward across the blank white page in a blobby mass of colorful dots. One tiny gray ladybug flies instead of crawling, and it’s a good thing—while it lands safely on the right side of the spread, the hundreds of other beetles disappear into the book’s central gutter. In a display of good sportsmanship (and following a silent exchange with a larger gray ladybug who was bringing up the rear—a parent, perhaps?), the small ladybug backtracks to help pull its fellow racers out in a chain that turns into a giant spiral to complete the race, while the gray ladybugs reunite. Rarely has a swarm of bugs been so charming. Ages 2–8. (July)

Reviewed on 05/22/2015 | Details & Permalink

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