An engaging protagonist overcomes sibling conflicts and finds adventure.

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An intrepid mouse deals with family dynamics.

In this follow-up to Jennings’ children’s novel Mia: Ripples in the Water (2019), Mia is back with her family of anthropomorphized mice in Italy. She takes part in the daily gathering of food, cooperates with her brothers, Cade and Rupert, and copes with the hostility and jealousy from another group of siblings led by her sister, Invidia. The book opens with an incident in the marketplace, where the mice escape a cat and the attentions of the merchants whose crumbs they steal. Papino and Mamma enjoy their family, though the conflicts between some of their children are evident. When Mia loses track of one of Papino’s old diaries, Invidia hides the work and allows her sister to think it is lost. Invidia then tells Mia that Papino has said he can never forgive a child who loses one of his books. Mia, who has no idea that Papino’s reaction was the opposite, decides she is unworthy of her family and runs away. At first, the family thinks Mia has joined the rescue efforts as the mouse community grapples with the aftermath of a major earthquake. But when Cade and Rupert arrive at the spot where rescue workers are organizing, they realize Mia is missing. Invidia, who tagged along on their journey, makes a new friend among the survivors who inspires her to repair her relationship with Mia. Mia has been on her own journey of self-discovery, and when she encounters Cade and Rupert, she is ready to return home, sure that Papino loves her despite her mistakes. In Jennings’ engrossing sequel, Invidia and Mia are both strong characters, and the conflict between them feels authentic (“Invidia and her group…spent most of their time gossiping and taunting others. Mia was their favorite target. Jealousy toward her took root from the attention she received from Papino”). The frequent references to Mia’s previous escapades may seem excessive to readers who have not perused the series opener, but they will have no trouble following the story here. This vibrant blend of the spirit of the Redwall fiction series and the Ramona Quimby novels will likely appeal to young independent readers.

An engaging protagonist overcomes sibling conflicts and finds adventure.

Pub Date: June 30, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-73727-611-1

Page Count: 264

Publisher: Bowker Identifier Services

Review Posted Online: Sept. 8, 2022


A stocking stuffer par excellence, just right for dishing up with milk and cookies.

Pigeon finds something better to drive than some old bus.

This time it’s Santa delivering the fateful titular words, and with a “Ho. Ho. Whoa!” the badgering begins: “C’mon! Where’s your holiday spirit? It would be a Christmas MIRACLE! Don’t you want to be part of a Christmas miracle…?” Pigeon is determined: “I can do Santa stuff!” Like wrapping gifts (though the accompanying illustration shows a rather untidy present), delivering them (the image of Pigeon attempting to get an oversize sack down a chimney will have little ones giggling), and eating plenty of cookies. Alas, as Willems’ legion of young fans will gleefully predict, not even Pigeon’s by-now well-honed persuasive powers (“I CAN BE JOLLY!”) will budge the sleigh’s large and stinky reindeer guardian. “BAH. Also humbug.” In the typically minimalist art, the frustrated feathered one sports a floppily expressive green and red elf hat for this seasonal addition to the series—but then discards it at the end for, uh oh, a pair of bunny ears. What could Pigeon have in mind now? “Egg delivery, anyone?”

A stocking stuffer par excellence, just right for dishing up with milk and cookies. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2023

ISBN: 9781454952770

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Union Square Kids

Review Posted Online: Sept. 12, 2023


Renata’s wren encounter proves magical, one most children could only wish to experience outside of this lovely story.

A home-renovation project is interrupted by a family of wrens, allowing a young girl an up-close glimpse of nature.

Renata and her father enjoy working on upgrading their bathroom, installing a clawfoot bathtub, and cutting a space for a new window. One warm night, after Papi leaves the window space open, two wrens begin making a nest in the bathroom. Rather than seeing it as an unfortunate delay of their project, Renata and Papi decide to let the avian carpenters continue their work. Renata witnesses the birth of four chicks as their rosy eggs split open “like coats that are suddenly too small.” Renata finds at a crucial moment that she can help the chicks learn to fly, even with the bittersweet knowledge that it will only hasten their exits from her life. Rosen uses lively language and well-chosen details to move the story of the baby birds forward. The text suggests the strong bond built by this Afro-Latinx father and daughter with their ongoing project without needing to point it out explicitly, a light touch in a picture book full of delicate, well-drawn moments and precise wording. Garoche’s drawings are impressively detailed, from the nest’s many small bits to the developing first feathers on the chicks and the wall smudges and exposed wiring of the renovation. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10-by-20-inch double-page spreads viewed at actual size.)

Renata’s wren encounter proves magical, one most children could only wish to experience outside of this lovely story. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: March 16, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-12320-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Schwartz & Wade/Random

Review Posted Online: Jan. 12, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2021

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