BABY, SLEEPY BABY

Don’t sleep on this sweet bedtime book: It’s as cozy as can be.

A picture-book lullaby.

Nothing in Atinuke’s text dictates that the family depicted in this book must be interracial, but Brooksbank’s illustrations depict the mother as White, the father and a grandmother as Black, and the two children with light-brown skin and curly, black hair. The titular baby has an older sibling who interacts with the tot in a loving, gentle way throughout. All of the family members are introduced on the full title page, each person cradling the baby in a sequence of pictures. The mother and baby appear at the far right of the spread, walking toward the page turn, and successive spreads show scenes of play and nurture with dreamy, saturated backgrounds and soft visual textures. The text does not rhyme but is nevertheless poetic, each sentence leading off with the titular refrain or a variation on it: “Baby, sleepy baby, I’ll call on the winds / and you’ll sail like a ship through the sky. / Baby, funny baby, I will gather all the clouds / to cuddle you, cozy and close.” It’s not entirely clear who is speaking—possibly each family member in turn, possibly just one of them; readers can discuss and decide. Regardless, the lyrical text matches the soothing visuals as each family member interacts with the baby in turn, until the parents drift off to sleep with their little one dozing between them.

Don’t sleep on this sweet bedtime book: It’s as cozy as can be. (Picture book. 6 mos.-3)

Pub Date: Oct. 5, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5362-1986-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: June 28, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2021

Categories:

WRECKING BALL

From the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series , Vol. 14

Readers can still rely on this series to bring laughs.

The Heffley family’s house undergoes a disastrous attempt at home improvement.

When Great Aunt Reba dies, she leaves some money to the family. Greg’s mom calls a family meeting to determine what to do with their share, proposing home improvements and then overruling the family’s cartoonish wish lists and instead pushing for an addition to the kitchen. Before bringing in the construction crew, the Heffleys attempt to do minor maintenance and repairs themselves—during which Greg fails at the work in various slapstick scenes. Once the professionals are brought in, the problems keep getting worse: angry neighbors, terrifying problems in walls, and—most serious—civil permitting issues that put the kibosh on what work’s been done. Left with only enough inheritance to patch and repair the exterior of the house—and with the school’s dismal standardized test scores as a final straw—Greg’s mom steers the family toward moving, opening up house-hunting and house-selling storylines (and devastating loyal Rowley, who doesn’t want to lose his best friend). While Greg’s positive about the move, he’s not completely uncaring about Rowley’s action. (And of course, Greg himself is not as unaffected as he wishes.) The gags include effectively placed callbacks to seemingly incidental events (the “stress lizard” brought in on testing day is particularly funny) and a lampoon of after-school-special–style problem books. Just when it seems that the Heffleys really will move, a new sequence of chaotic trouble and property destruction heralds a return to the status quo. Whew.

Readers can still rely on this series to bring laughs. (Graphic/fiction hybrid. 8-12)

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4197-3903-3

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Amulet/Abrams

Review Posted Online: Nov. 18, 2019

FAMILIES BELONG

A joyful celebration.

Families in a variety of configurations play, dance, and celebrate together.

The rhymed verse, based on a song from the Noodle Loaf children’s podcast, declares that “Families belong / Together like a puzzle / Different-sized people / One big snuggle.” The accompanying image shows an interracial couple of caregivers (one with brown skin and one pale) cuddling with a pajama-clad toddler with light brown skin and surrounded by two cats and a dog. Subsequent pages show a wide array of families with members of many different racial presentations engaging in bike and bus rides, indoor dance parties, and more. In some, readers see only one caregiver: a father or a grandparent, perhaps. One same-sex couple with two children in tow are expecting another child. Smart’s illustrations are playful and expressive, curating the most joyful moments of family life. The verse, punctuated by the word together, frequently set in oversized font, is gently inclusive at its best but may trip up readers with its irregular rhythms. The song that inspired the book can be found on the Noodle Loaf website.

A joyful celebration. (Board book. 1-3)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-22276-8

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Rise x Penguin Workshop

Review Posted Online: Nov. 26, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2020

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