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. 23, 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 3, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2020

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An honest look at motherhood in the contemporary era and a sweet tribute to the bond between mother and child.


Grammy-winning, multiplatinum singer/songwriter Rowland teams up with California teacher McKay to celebrate busy moms.

This picture book highlights a mother’s frequent longing to be with her child when life’s demands pull them apart. The story takes us through a busy Black mom’s week: She goes to work (at a construction site where she appears to be an engineer), works from home on her son’s sick day, takes him to a museum, and shares domestic duties with her Black male partner, who is a nurse. She encounters many bumps in the road that will be familiar to working parents. Each day, she gently reassures her son with a lyrical refrain: “Always with you, / Always with me, / Mommy and child / Together we’ll be.” This tender story, narrated in the voice of a mother addressing her child, pulls at the heartstrings. Liem’s digital artwork uses a warm palette and has a calming quality. The characters’ body language and heartfelt facial expressions are spot-on. This book will resonate with any mom who knows the heartache of having to say goodbye to their child or who has faced the teary-eyed frustration of a youngster experiencing separation anxiety. Young readers, on the other hand, will find solace in the reassuring narrative. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

An honest look at motherhood in the contemporary era and a sweet tribute to the bond between mother and child. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: April 26, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-46551-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2022

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