A bedtime, daytime, anytime family story with a Black child at the center.

TIME FOR KENNY

Here comes Kenny, a boy in perpetual motion.

In the first of four episodes, a Black boy named Kenny attempts to dress in different family members’ clothes while the patterned text unfolds as a series of questions and answers: “Can he wear these shoes?” the text asks as Kenny stands in a pair of purple pumps, answering its own question right away: “No, those are Mommy’s shoes.” When he finally gets dressed, the family walks Grandaddy to the bus with his suitcase. The second story tells of Kenny’s fear of the vacuum cleaner. Because it “roars like a lion” and eats off the floor, Kenny wonders if it might eat Kitty, his toy, or even him. In the third story, Kenny’s big sister gives him a lesson in soccer, a “no hands” sport (except for a high-five at the end). In the final story, although it’s Kenny’s bedtime, he isn’t tired…until he is. But there’s still time to snuggle up with Mommy for a story. Young readers who enjoyed Pinkney’s Puppy Truck (2019) will eagerly grow into reading these stories alone, but they also work well as participatory read-alouds because of the repetitive text. Solid, pastel-colored pages divide one vignette from another. With plenty of white space and colorful swirls depicting Kenny’s perpetual motion, Pinkney’s recognizable illustrations affirm the closeness of this Black family and paint an empathetic picture of one kid’s resistances, fears, and joys. (This book was reviewed digitally with 11-by-18-inch double-page spreads viewed at 25% of actual size.)

A bedtime, daytime, anytime family story with a Black child at the center. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Jan. 12, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-06-073528-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2020

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A quiet, thought-provoking story of environmental change and the power humans have to slow it.

THE OLD BOAT

A multigenerational tale of a boat’s life with a Black family, written by two brothers who loved similar boats.

In the opening spread, a smiling, brown-skinned adult dangles a line from the back of a green-and-white boat while a boy peers eagerly over the side at the sea life. The text never describes years passing, but each page turn reveals the boy’s aging, more urban development on the shore, increasing water pollution, marine-life changes (sea jellies abound on one page), and shifting water levels. Eventually, the boy, now a teenager, steers the boat, and as an adult, he fishes alone but must go farther and farther out to sea to make his catch. One day, the man loses his way, capsizes in a storm, and washes up on a small bay island, with the overturned, sunken boat just offshore. Now a “new sailor” cleans up the land and water with others’ help. The physical similarities between the shipwrecked sailor and the “new sailor” suggest that this is not a new person but one whose near-death experience has led to an epiphany that changes his relationship to water. As the decaying boat becomes a new marine habitat, the sailor teaches the next generation (a child with hair in two Afro puffs) to fish. Focusing primarily on the sea, the book’s earth-toned illustrations, created with hundreds of stamps, carry the compelling plot.

A quiet, thought-provoking story of environmental change and the power humans have to slow it. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-324-00517-9

Page Count: 56

Publisher: Norton Young Readers

Review Posted Online: Dec. 25, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2021

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Review Posted Online: June 3, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2020

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more