More than most adoption books, this one is love-it or hate-it, as its metaphor is likely to sail over most children’s heads...

A GIFT FOR LITTLE TREE

A God-centric adoption story using a grafted apple tree as a metaphor.

Four opening spreads set the scene with softly colored watercolor artwork: an apple orchard, an idyllic place where the often anthropomorphized trees bear fruit of all colors and tastes and where all the trees are happy under the loving care of the farmer who planted them. But the fifth introduces Little Tree, who yearns to bear her own fruit but cannot. When she asks the farmer what her purpose could be, he reassures her that, having planted her, he has not forgotten her. One fall, the farmer grafts a limb from Green Pippin, whose branches are too weak, onto Little Tree, who wonders if she could love these apples but trusts the farmer. Come spring, all her doubts are banished, and she is grafted several more times, eventually sporting apples of many different colors, all of them loved. The final spread is a close-up of Little Tree and her apples, the only text Isaiah 49:16—“Behold, I have carved you on the palms of my hands.” A final author’s note describes Marquez’s inspiration for the story, which also led her to adopt children of her own. Nowhere else, though, does the book break from the apple-tree metaphor to talk about adopting children.

More than most adoption books, this one is love-it or hate-it, as its metaphor is likely to sail over most children’s heads and shows adoption as only a Plan B. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 14, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-9857932-4-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Cupola Press

Review Posted Online: Nov. 18, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2013

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A nicely inventive little morality “tail” for newly independent readers.

THE INFAMOUS RATSOS

From the Infamous Ratsos series , Vol. 1

Two little rats decide to show the world how tough they are, with unpredictable results.

Louie and Ralphie Ratso want to be just like their single dad, Big Lou: tough! They know that “tough” means doing mean things to other animals, like stealing Chad Badgerton’s hat. Chad Badgerton is a big badger, so taking that hat from him proves that Louie and Ralphie are just as tough as they want to be. However, it turns out that Louie and Ralphie have just done a good deed instead of a bad one: Chad Badgerton had taken that hat from little Tiny Crawley, a mouse, so when Tiny reclaims it, they are celebrated for goodness rather than toughness. Sadly, every attempt Louie and Ralphie make at doing mean things somehow turns nice. What’s a little boy rat supposed to do to be tough? Plus, they worry about what their dad will say when he finds out how good they’ve been. But wait! Maybe their dad has some other ideas? LaReau keeps the action high and completely appropriate for readers embarking on chapter books. Each of the first six chapters features a new, failed attempt by Louie and Ralphie to be mean, and the final, seventh chapter resolves everything nicely. The humor springs from their foiled efforts and their reactions to their failures. Myers’ sprightly grayscale drawings capture action and characters and add humorous details, such as the Ratsos’ “unwelcome” mat.

A nicely inventive little morality “tail” for newly independent readers. (Fiction. 5-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 2, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-7636-7636-0

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: May 4, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2016

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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 Books

Review Posted Online: June 3, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2020

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