Readers captivated by the understated silliness of the premise may find themselves imagining what their own neighborhoods...

PUMPKIN ISLAND

Geisert, known for his intricate etchings that often feature profusions of pigs, here turns to pumpkins, offering a meditation on the effects of one astonishingly fertile runaway pumpkin on a small Iowa town.

It all begins when a pumpkin is washed away from a farm to a small island in the middle of a river near a bridge. It breaks; its seeds sprout; vines soon stretch from the island to downtown via that bridge. In a sequence of expansive double-page spreads, Geisert depicts the overrunning of Main Street by the pumpkin’s progeny, the orange gourds improbably popping up everywhere. “People did fun things with the pumpkins. Sometimes, even dangerous things.” People throw pumpkins, do acrobatics and dance with them. And of course they build medieval siege weapons. Ultimately, after a gentle pumpkin chaos reigns for several page turns, the townspeople (all seemingly white) carve them into jack-o-lanterns and range them all up and down Main Street, their faces glowing long into the night. Geisert’s spreads offer readers detail upon whimsical detail, including a witch who walks calmly about and much rooftop tomfoolery. The text and art are occasionally out of sync, and, truthfully, there isn’t much plot—but there are many pumpkins to count.

Readers captivated by the understated silliness of the premise may find themselves imagining what their own neighborhoods might look like under similar circumstances . (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 23, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-59270-265-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Enchanted Lion Books

Review Posted Online: Sept. 30, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2018

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Though told by two outsiders to the culture, this timely and well-crafted story will educate readers on the preciousness of...

THE WATER PRINCESS

An international story tackles a serious global issue with Reynolds’ characteristic visual whimsy.

Gie Gie—aka Princess Gie Gie—lives with her parents in Burkina Faso. In her kingdom under “the African sky, so wild and so close,” she can tame wild dogs with her song and make grass sway, but despite grand attempts, she can neither bring the water closer to home nor make it clean. French words such as “maintenant!” (now!) and “maman” (mother) and local color like the karite tree and shea nuts place the story in a French-speaking African country. Every morning, Gie Gie and her mother perch rings of cloth and large clay pots on their heads and walk miles to the nearest well to fetch murky, brown water. The story is inspired by model Georgie Badiel, who founded the Georgie Badiel Foundation to make clean water accessible to West Africans. The details in Reynolds’ expressive illustrations highlight the beauty of the West African landscape and of Princess Gie Gie, with her cornrowed and beaded hair, but will also help readers understand that everyone needs clean water—from the children of Burkina Faso to the children of Flint, Michigan.

Though told by two outsiders to the culture, this timely and well-crafted story will educate readers on the preciousness of potable water. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 13, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-399-17258-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 18, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2016

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A retro-futuristic romp, literally and figuratively screwy.

ROBOBABY

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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