WILLIAM'S GETAWAY

A sweet sibling story.

William needs a break from his younger brother.

William’s younger brother, Edgar, loves to play with him. And sometimes William likes to play with him too. But today, Edgar is too loud and destructive, and William wants to be alone. The only place he can be alone is up high in his hot air balloon. Edgar is usually too afraid to climb up, but today he wants to come along. William is disappointed but doesn’t refuse. On his approach to the ladder, Edgar freezes, with queries about what if he gets hungry, thirsty, or cold, grabbing snacks and toys for comfort. William finally stops Edgar from frantically assembling these items and helps him to be brave. Dunklee writes a story that will feel familiar to readers who have younger siblings and sometimes need a little alone time. William is a great role model, demonstrating how kindness can overcome annoyance and create a fun shared adventure. The watercolor-and–colored-pencil illustrations are adorable, capturing a child’s vast imagination with a light touch. Kang transforms their suburban house into a beautiful outdoor world to explore. The tiniest details give hints to the truth of William’s hot air balloon. William and Edgar have peach skin, black hair, and rosy cheeks, and they negotiate their play without adult intervention.

A sweet sibling story. (Picture book. 3-8)

Pub Date: March 15, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-77147-337-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Owlkids Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 21, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

CARPENTER'S HELPER

Renata’s wren encounter proves magical, one most children could only wish to experience outside of this lovely story.

A home-renovation project is interrupted by a family of wrens, allowing a young girl an up-close glimpse of nature.

Renata and her father enjoy working on upgrading their bathroom, installing a clawfoot bathtub, and cutting a space for a new window. One warm night, after Papi leaves the window space open, two wrens begin making a nest in the bathroom. Rather than seeing it as an unfortunate delay of their project, Renata and Papi decide to let the avian carpenters continue their work. Renata witnesses the birth of four chicks as their rosy eggs split open “like coats that are suddenly too small.” Renata finds at a crucial moment that she can help the chicks learn to fly, even with the bittersweet knowledge that it will only hasten their exits from her life. Rosen uses lively language and well-chosen details to move the story of the baby birds forward. The text suggests the strong bond built by this Afro-Latinx father and daughter with their ongoing project without needing to point it out explicitly, a light touch in a picture book full of delicate, well-drawn moments and precise wording. Garoche’s drawings are impressively detailed, from the nest’s many small bits to the developing first feathers on the chicks and the wall smudges and exposed wiring of the renovation. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10-by-20-inch double-page spreads viewed at actual size.)

Renata’s wren encounter proves magical, one most children could only wish to experience outside of this lovely story. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: March 16, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-12320-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Schwartz & Wade/Random

Review Posted Online: Jan. 12, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2021

HOW TO CATCH A GINGERBREAD MAN

From the How To Catch… series

A brisk if bland offering for series fans, but cleverer metafictive romps abound.

The titular cookie runs off the page at a bookstore storytime, pursued by young listeners and literary characters.

Following on 13 previous How To Catch… escapades, Wallace supplies sometimes-tortured doggerel and Elkerton, a set of helter-skelter cartoon scenes. Here the insouciant narrator scampers through aisles, avoiding a series of elaborate snares set by the racially diverse young storytime audience with help from some classic figures: “Alice and her mad-hat friends, / as a gift for my unbirthday, / helped guide me through the walls of shelves— / now I’m bound to find my way.” The literary helpers don’t look like their conventional or Disney counterparts in the illustrations, but all are clearly identified by at least a broad hint or visual cue, like the unnamed “wizard” who swoops in on a broom to knock over a tower labeled “Frogwarts.” Along with playing a bit fast and loose with details (“Perhaps the boy with the magic beans / saved me with his cow…”) the author discards his original’s lip-smacking climax to have the errant snack circling back at last to his book for a comfier sort of happily-ever-after.

A brisk if bland offering for series fans, but cleverer metafictive romps abound. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 3, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-7282-0935-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Sourcebooks Wonderland

Review Posted Online: July 26, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2021

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