So-so verse but a warming message for the heart and a feast for the eyes.

WELCOME FLOWER CHILD

THE MAGIC OF YOUR BIRTH FLOWER

A monthly party of positivity hosted by garden fairies.

This book’s dedication sets the positive tone: “Every child is a different kind of flower, and all together make this world a beautiful garden.” Anchoring the title page, fanciful winged garden fairies parade the flowers to be highlighted in the ensuing text. Most are familiar (daffodil, rose, poppy, etc.), but the list doesn’t seem to duplicate any standard list of birth months and flowers. Within, each double-page spread contains a four-line verse with an encouraging message for that month. “December: Poinsettia / December’s flowers are vibrant and strong. / They raise our spirits like a song. / Your sweetness and courage are a gift / that gives our hearts a cheerful lift.” The verse is singsong-y, with the occasional metrical stumble and more than occasional cliché. The real joy of this book is the illustrations, with colors as vibrant as a brilliant sunset. Garden snapshots pop against lighter backgrounds. Close inspection of the illustrations will reveal garden fairies, moths, and butterflies. The most observant readers will also spot a mouse, a spider, ladybugs, caterpillars, and dragonflies. (This book was reviewed digitally with 9.5-by-19-inch double-page spreads viewed at 39.9% of actual size.)

So-so verse but a warming message for the heart and a feast for the eyes. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Jan. 5, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-984830-39-5

Page Count: 42

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2020

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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

Review Posted Online: June 3, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2020

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Kids may choose differently at the pumpkin patch after reading this tale, though any deeper message may be lost on them.

STUMPKIN

A stemless pumpkin who isn’t chosen gets the best Halloween of all.

On the shelves outside a shop in a busy city, a shopkeeper makes a display of orange pumpkins and a single yellow gourd. They are all sizes and shapes and have lovely stems, save for one. Poor Stumpkin worries that, despite his good qualities, his stemlessness will prevent him from becoming a jack-o’-lantern like all the other pumpkins that go home with customers to decorate the windows across the street. On Halloween night, he alone is left (even the gourd went home with someone!). So the shopkeeper scoops him up. The spreads that follow are marvelous, wordless creations that will delight young readers: A black spread is followed by one with an orange-rimmed white triangle on the verso, then one with similar triangles on both pages. “Stumpkin wouldn’t be getting a window. And he wouldn’t be getting a new home. // He already had a home.” The final page shows Stumpkin as a jack-o’-lantern back on the shelves with the shopkeeper’s friendly black cat. Though undoubtedly feel-good, the book may leave readers wondering exactly what it’s saying about Stumpkin’s physical irregularity—is it some kind of disability metaphor? The city sights, people, and animals other than the cat are all black silhouettes, keeping the focus on Stumpkin.

Kids may choose differently at the pumpkin patch after reading this tale, though any deeper message may be lost on them. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: July 24, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5344-1362-7

Page Count: 56

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: July 16, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2018

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