Inventive paper engineering adds extra oomph to this brouhaha under the big top.


A pop-up circus act featuring, luckily, “the world’s strongest cat.”

It all begins with “Miss Prune! In her lovely costume, / she has biceps like moons”—and that’s a good thing, because she is tasked with balancing an immense tower of acrobats, 10 in all, that rises in sections as each of five accordion-folded pop-ups opens up. But sacré bleu! No sooner have Kevin and Kelvin, the ninth and 10th performers, vaulted to the top than an unexpected feline addition—“Ginger! No! NO!”—heralds a catastrophic 3-D whirl of tumbling, airborne acrobats and props. Is all lost? Fear not: One further, last page turn, and there stands the cat…holding up all the acrobats, their arms and legs flung wide. Bravo! A round of applause for the Acrobat Family and Ginger the Red! Vaguely tent shaped, being formatted with beveled edges running up to a tall, sharp peak, the volume may be a challenge to shelve…but it’s not likely to stay on the shelf for long. The stylized, uniformly orange-skinned daredevils, variously decked out in bright costumes as well as bowl cuts, braids, tight curls, and other individualizing features, present as nonspecific people of color.

Inventive paper engineering adds extra oomph to this brouhaha under the big top. (Pop-up picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Nov. 26, 2019

ISBN: 978-3-89955-835-7

Page Count: 18

Publisher: Little Gestalten

Review Posted Online: Oct. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2019

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A retro-futuristic romp, literally and figuratively screwy.


Robo-parents Diode and Lugnut present daughter Cathode with a new little brother—who requires, unfortunately, some assembly.

Arriving in pieces from some mechanistic version of Ikea, little Flange turns out to be a cute but complicated tyke who immediately falls apart…and then rockets uncontrollably about the room after an overconfident uncle tinkers with his basic design. As a squad of helpline techies and bevies of neighbors bearing sludge cake and like treats roll in, the cluttered and increasingly crowded scene deteriorates into madcap chaos—until at last Cath, with help from Roomba-like robodog Sprocket, stages an intervention by whisking the hapless new arrival off to a backyard workshop for a proper assembly and software update. “You’re such a good big sister!” warbles her frazzled mom. Wiesner’s robots display his characteristic clean lines and even hues but endearingly look like vaguely anthropomorphic piles of random jet-engine parts and old vacuum cleaners loosely connected by joints of armored cable. They roll hither and thither through neatly squared-off panels and pages in infectiously comical dismay. Even the end’s domestic tranquility lasts only until Cathode spots the little box buried in the bigger one’s packing material: “TWINS!” (This book was reviewed digitally with 9-by-22-inch double-page spreads viewed at 52% of actual size.)

A retro-futuristic romp, literally and figuratively screwy. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-544-98731-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Clarion Books

Review Posted Online: June 2, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2020

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A sweet reminder to pause and ponder life’s everyday wonders.


A young girl models mindfulness as she savors each moment.

This charming and vibrant picture book opens in Tisha’s backyard, where she is reaching skyward as falling blossoms float toward her. Her joy and anticipation are disrupted by a series of “hurry up” commands from those around her, who prod her to rush for the school bus, attend an assembly, and make sure that she doesn’t miss lunch. The externally imposed directions conflict with Tisha’s natural curiosity, which compels her not only to “listen to the sounds” and to count the spots on a ladybug she finds during recess, but also to create connections between a book she finds about space and the space shuttle she imagines but cannot finish drawing because “it’s time to put the crayons away.” When Tisha requests “a little slowdown,” she and Mommy decide to walk home and play “How Many?” along the way; they also snuggle on a park bench and name all the pigeons. What began as a harried day ends on an idyllic note with a family picnic under flowering trees; when the wind blows, Tisha can catch a blossom at last. Artful and striking illustrations produce a multitude of visual textures that delineate individual blooms, sketch Tisha’s neighborhood, render colorful yet subtle details of characters and clothing, and deliver painterly impressions. Tisha and her family are tan-skinned with dark hair; her classmates are diverse. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A sweet reminder to pause and ponder life’s everyday wonders. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: May 17, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-5362-2198-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: April 12, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2022

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