Sparkles, No Sparkles

Tundra. Mar. 2024. 32p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780735270398.
PreS-K–In this companion to Wheels, No Wheels, a sparkly crown, cape, and pair of boots provide the perfect cover for a ragtag group of animals to sneak into a theater and give a very unexpected performance. The stars of this picture book are its short, direct sentences and its adorable, cartoony, and detailed illustrations. Unfortunately, the plot is confusing. Most picture books gather strength as text and art complement and amplify each other; here, neither pulls its weight. The book begins by highlighting the lack of sparkles of a pigeon, poodle, and toad; then it cuts to them stealing sparkly items and sneaking into the theater. There is no explanation for why they are sneaking in or why they stole the items. A small usher is also lacking sparkle; a taller usher admits a sparkly flamingo and zebra. From context, it seems sparkles are necessary to enter the theater, but all of it presents a barrier to understanding for the book’s target age group, most of whom aren’t aware of—and may not care about—the aspirational rule of being dressed for the occasion or even “on the list.” Since the characters’ motivation is never clearly established, the events of the story feel disjointed.
VERDICT The illustrations are fun, but the lost opportunities are palpable. Not recommended.

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