Can a book about napping be a lively story? Why, yes. Meet Annalise.

Middle-grade novelist Grabenstein, perhaps best known for the Mr. Lemoncello’s Library series, turns to picture books in this story of a spunky toddler who prefers shrieking to napping. Her weary father pushes her through town in a stroller, hoping it will lull her to sleep. The two discover that the townspeople, one by one, are more than happy to “take” Annalise’s nap in her stead. Everyone stops in their tracks to get some shut-eye while Annalise is “the only one in the whole wide sleepy world who would not fall asleep.” When she’s finally ready to, she can’t; “all the naps had already been taken!” Cue more shouting: “I WANT TO TAKE A NAP!” Grabenstein writes chummily, often directly addressing readers (“Do you know anyone like that?”). The book’s display type plays with font size and color to accentuate Annalise’s wails, and Espinosa fills the retro illustrations, reminiscent of mid-20th-century classics, with funny details, including snoozing pigeons, fish, and ducks. Preschoolers will find the defiant protagonist’s protests a little bit thrilling and 100% funny. Delightfully, the front endpapers feature a large, red “WAAAAAH!”; the closing ones, a small, blue “Shhhh” after the girl has finally, mercifully closed her eyes. Annalise and her family have pale skin; Espinosa depicts a diverse group of townspeople who will gladly take her naps for her.

Screamingly fun. (Picture book. 3-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5247-7128-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Nov. 5, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2019

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A sweet, lyrical book perfect for bedtime sharing.


The interconnectedness of humanity shines throughout this affirming picture book from singer/songwriter Di Franco.

An unnamed young character sits patiently while their mother plaits their long hair; the child describes in rhyming couplets their visible traits, such as their hair, skin, and eyes, all warm shades of tan and brown like those of their family. But the narrator is more than how they look—beneath the surface is something they call “The Knowing.” The child goes on to share more about their life, from charming details like their slightly torn favorite blanket to the games they play with friends. All the while the narrator tries their best to explain that The Knowing is a common element that draws us all together. Though the concept of The Knowing may be a bit subtle and cerebral for the intended audience, the poetic beauty of Di Franco’s writing more than makes up for that potential criticism. The message is lovely and delivered gently, and the author makes a familiar theme—the focus on inner life—feel fresh and new. The protagonist and their family present as South Asian in Mathew’s soft, tender watercolor, colored pencil, and charcoal illustrations. Glowing with the gentle love of the main character’s friends, family, community, and self, the artwork beams with assuredness—the embodiment of Di Franco’s words. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A sweet, lyrical book perfect for bedtime sharing. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: March 7, 2023

ISBN: 978-0-593-38375-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Rise x Penguin Workshop

Review Posted Online: Jan. 12, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2023

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Although the love comes shining through, the text often confuses in straining for patterned simplicity.


A collection of parental wishes for a child.

It starts out simply enough: two children run pell-mell across an open field, one holding a high-flying kite with the line “I wish you more ups than downs.” But on subsequent pages, some of the analogous concepts are confusing or ambiguous. The line “I wish you more tippy-toes than deep” accompanies a picture of a boy happily swimming in a pool. His feet are visible, but it's not clear whether he's floating in the deep end or standing in the shallow. Then there's a picture of a boy on a beach, his pockets bulging with driftwood and colorful shells, looking frustrated that his pockets won't hold the rest of his beachcombing treasures, which lie tantalizingly before him on the sand. The line reads: “I wish you more treasures than pockets.” Most children will feel the better wish would be that he had just the right amount of pockets for his treasures. Some of the wordplay, such as “more can than knot” and “more pause than fast-forward,” will tickle older readers with their accompanying, comical illustrations. The beautifully simple pictures are a sweet, kid- and parent-appealing blend of comic-strip style and fine art; the cast of children depicted is commendably multiethnic.

Although the love comes shining through, the text often confuses in straining for patterned simplicity. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: April 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4521-2699-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: Feb. 16, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2015

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