An effervescent outing with a refreshingly (or, in some quarters, distressingly) subversive message.

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THE SPACE WALK

What better way to meet a new friend than taking a walk outside—even in space?

In a strangely familiar exchange, astronaut Randolph Witherspoon whines that he’s bored, and Ground Control grants permission for a stroll outside—as soon as he has lunch and cleans up his capsule. One warning: “Don’t talk to strangers!” A packet of mashed Brussels sprouts and a bit of housekeeping later, Randolph is out the hatch, floating in space that Biggs has festooned with swirly, polka-dot planets in party colors, and snapping pictures of various astro-wonders. When one of these last (looking like a tin can trailing a cluster of mechanical arms) displays a googly eye, it takes but a few big, wordless panels before astronaut and ET are happily orbiting each other, taking selfies together, and finally exchanging goodbye hugs. “Spacewalk complete!” Randolph informs Ground Control, asking if he can go out again later. “We’ll see in the morning.” It will not be lost on children that while Randolph may not actively talk to his unexpected companion, he does not seem to be observing the letter of Ground Control’s law. The porousness of this aspect of the narrative should lead to some interesting conversations between listeners and caregivers.

An effervescent outing with a refreshingly (or, in some quarters, distressingly) subversive message. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 29, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-55337-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2019

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Earnest and silly by turns, it doesn’t quite capture the attention or the imagination, although surely its heart is in the...

ROSIE REVERE, ENGINEER

Rhymed couplets convey the story of a girl who likes to build things but is shy about it. Neither the poetry nor Rosie’s projects always work well.

Rosie picks up trash and oddments where she finds them, stashing them in her attic room to work on at night. Once, she made a hat for her favorite zookeeper uncle to keep pythons away, and he laughed so hard that she never made anything publicly again. But when her great-great-aunt Rose comes to visit and reminds Rosie of her own past building airplanes, she expresses her regret that she still has not had the chance to fly. Great-great-aunt Rose is visibly modeled on Rosie the Riveter, the iconic, red-bandanna–wearing poster woman from World War II. Rosie decides to build a flying machine and does so (it’s a heli-o-cheese-copter), but it fails. She’s just about to swear off making stuff forever when Aunt Rose congratulates her on her failure; now she can go on to try again. Rosie wears her hair swooped over one eye (just like great-great-aunt Rose), and other figures have exaggerated hairdos, tiny feet and elongated or greatly rounded bodies. The detritus of Rosie’s collections is fascinating, from broken dolls and stuffed animals to nails, tools, pencils, old lamps and possibly an erector set. And cheddar-cheese spray.

Earnest and silly by turns, it doesn’t quite capture the attention or the imagination, although surely its heart is in the right place. (historical note) (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-4197-0845-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2013

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For fans of Evert and Breiehagen’s Wish Book series.

THE POLAR BEAR WISH

Anja and her dog, Birki, do their best to get to a Christmas party in a frozen Nordic landscape.

Anja wishes she had a dog sled to harness Birki to in order to get to the party. The next morning, her cousin Erik appears with his dog sled and an offer to take her there. Lost in a blizzard, they encounter talking wolves who take them to a tent where they can spend the night. A baby polar bear named Tiny appears, separated from his mother. The following day takes them all on an adventure through glaciers and fjords, past an ice castle, and finally to Tiny’s mother and to the party. This digitally produced book is illustrated with photographs that capture the Nordic setting. Unfortunately, the overall effect is weirdly flat, with elements awkwardly set together in images that lack depth. A polar bear perches awkwardly on top of oddly scaled pack ice; Anja and Erik spend a night in the ice castle in niches chiseled into the wall, but they seem oddly disconnected from it. The book has an old-fashioned, European feel; the white, blond children’s red caps and traditional clothing stand out against the dim, bluish winter light. But the wooden, overlong text does little to cultivate the magical fantasy feeling that it’s aiming for.

For fans of Evert and Breiehagen’s Wish Book series. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 4, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5247-6566-8

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Aug. 20, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2018

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