An uplifting family story that highlights the importance of positive parent-child bonds.


Young sisters spend the day at home with their father in Balde and Sow’s debut picture book.

When Mommy leaves early for work, Diari and Fatima spend the day with Daddy. Diari chronicles their activities, often repeating the phrase “When Mommy’s away, Daddies and daughters stick together.” She particularly notes instances of Daddy’s kindness and support, as when he helps them with their counting and reading skills. When they practice their French, Fula, and Spanish vocabulary, he says, “I am so proud of you, and I love you so much!” After other fun activities, such as dancing and yoga stretches, the sisters take a nap and later help Daddy cook dinner. Mommy comes home that evening and helps Diari and Fatima get ready for bed. Diari is thrilled: “I’m happy to say: Mommy, Daddy, and daughters stick together.” Balde and Sow effectively emphasize how children thrive in supportive, loving environments. Young readers and caregivers will enjoy the wholesome depiction of close family relationships, even if their own family structure or child care routine is different than the characters’. Artist Fernandez’s full-color illustrations, which depict a Black family, have a photographic, realistic quality; some feature textured, dimensional aspects such as floating bubbles above Diari’s bubble bath and a starry sky illuminated by the moon.

An uplifting family story that highlights the importance of positive parent-child bonds.

Pub Date: May 10, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-954854-52-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Bird Upstairs Books

Review Posted Online: March 21, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2022

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Energetic and earnest but not groundbreaking.


Unlikely friends Bear and Rabbit face fears together.

The anthropomorphic creatures set out on an adventure. Graphic-based illustrations give the book a Pixar movie feel, with a variety of page layouts that keep the story moving. Large blocks of black text are heavy on dialogue patterns as timid Bear and bold Rabbit encounter obstacles. Bear fears every one of them, from the stream to the mountain. He’ll do anything to avoid the objects of terror: taking a bus, a train, and even a helicopter. As Rabbit asks Bear if he’s frightened, Bear repeatedly responds, “I’m not scared, you’re scared!” and children will delight in the call-and-response opportunities. Adults may tire of the refrain, but attempts to keep everyone entertained are evident in asides about Bear's inability to brush food from his teeth (he’s too afraid to look at himself in the mirror) and Rabbit's superstrong ears (which do come in handy later). When Rabbit finds herself in danger after Bear defects on the adventure, Bear retraces the trip. Along the way, he notes that the stream wasn't as deep, nor the mountain as high, as he thought when he was scared. While picture-book shelves may not be screaming for another comedically sweet bear story, especially one that treads such familiar territory, many readers will appreciate this tale of overcoming fears. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Energetic and earnest but not groundbreaking. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: March 15, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-35237-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Flamingo Books

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2022

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A nicely inventive little morality “tail” for newly independent readers.


From the Infamous Ratsos series , Vol. 1

Two little rats decide to show the world how tough they are, with unpredictable results.

Louie and Ralphie Ratso want to be just like their single dad, Big Lou: tough! They know that “tough” means doing mean things to other animals, like stealing Chad Badgerton’s hat. Chad Badgerton is a big badger, so taking that hat from him proves that Louie and Ralphie are just as tough as they want to be. However, it turns out that Louie and Ralphie have just done a good deed instead of a bad one: Chad Badgerton had taken that hat from little Tiny Crawley, a mouse, so when Tiny reclaims it, they are celebrated for goodness rather than toughness. Sadly, every attempt Louie and Ralphie make at doing mean things somehow turns nice. What’s a little boy rat supposed to do to be tough? Plus, they worry about what their dad will say when he finds out how good they’ve been. But wait! Maybe their dad has some other ideas? LaReau keeps the action high and completely appropriate for readers embarking on chapter books. Each of the first six chapters features a new, failed attempt by Louie and Ralphie to be mean, and the final, seventh chapter resolves everything nicely. The humor springs from their foiled efforts and their reactions to their failures. Myers’ sprightly grayscale drawings capture action and characters and add humorous details, such as the Ratsos’ “unwelcome” mat.

A nicely inventive little morality “tail” for newly independent readers. (Fiction. 5-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 2, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-7636-7636-0

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: May 4, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2016

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