Learning to read can be hard, and this book offers youngsters tackling the skill needed sympathy.

I DO NOT LIKE BOOKS ANYMORE!

Monster siblings Alphonse and Natalie (Alphonse, That Is Not OK to Do! 2016) return in a sympathetic story about learning to read.

Natalie is excited to go to school and to learn to read. She and her younger brother, Alphonse, love stories, both hearing them and telling them. But when the teacher hands Natalie her first primer, reading seems harder than expected, as “the letters and words looked like prickles or birds’ feet.” Despite the teacher’s encouragement to sound out the words, Natalie is frustrated by the difficulty as well as the absence of a real story in this book about a cat that sits. Practicing eventually gives her mastery of this book, but when Alphonse asks Natalie to read aloud one of his books, the letters and words look “like scuttling insects with too many legs and eyes.” Natalie declares, “I DO NOT LIKE BOOKS ANYMORE!” Instead, she decides to take care of her sick elephant, Sinéad, while making up her own more interesting story. Dad helps by writing the words to the pictures she draws with her brother, producing a homemade book she can read again and again. Bold, primary colors against white space create supportive scenes peopled by this lovable family of adorable, Muppet-like monsters eager to nurture some perseverance and full of patience with Natalie’s struggle and ultimate accomplishment. Natalie is on her way to reap the pleasures of learning to read, as seen in the endpapers, by authoring her own storybooks, a recognized strategy to foster beginning readers.

Learning to read can be hard, and this book offers youngsters tackling the skill needed sympathy. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Nov. 20, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5362-0334-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Sept. 30, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2018

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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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While the amusing scenario may prove to be more a nostalgia trip for adult readers than something today’s kids will...

OY FEH SO?

Weekly Sunday visits from their two aunts and one uncle are so disagreeable that three children take steps to alter the atmosphere through some harmlessly exaggerated imitation.

Each Sunday afternoon the family guests arrive, heavily plop themselves on the living room furniture, and make negative, complaining and resigned statements. “Oy,” says Aunt Essy. “Feh,” says Aunt Chanah. “So?” says Uncle Sam. “That was all they ever said!” Despite the children’s parents’ attempts to make pleasant conversation or the children’s enthusiastic play-acting performed for the guests, the reaction is always the same uncongenial three words. Ink-and-watercolor illustrations depict Essy, Chanah and Sam with unflattering caricatures of stereotypical adult Jewish characters, with clownishly large noses, slouchy, overweight bodies and unsmiling faces. In exasperation, the children each take a role and comically mimic their aunts’ and uncle’s behavior, forcing laughter and recognition. This mishpocheh now redeems itself with a newfound willingness to tell family stories and loving childhood memories; the palette here modulates from muted tones to bright, sunny colors.

While the amusing scenario may prove to be more a nostalgia trip for adult readers than something today’s kids will immediately recognize, they will appreciate the overall sentiment even if they miss the Yiddish essence. Nu? (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: April 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-55498-148-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Groundwood

Review Posted Online: Feb. 27, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2013

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