Resonant and reassuring.

A parent, three children, and a dog weather a crisis together.

“A storm came to our town.” Autumn leaves swirl and a child swings from a tire on a tree, yet overhead looms a huge dark cloud. “We were going to have to stay inside, maybe for a long while.” It’s not easy. “There was nothing to do and too much time to do it.” There are moments of chaos: bathtub puddles and dog-chewed shoes. Each person looks unhappy, bored, frustrated, angry. Shockingly, the adult totally loses it. Yet when there’s an enormous flash of lightning (“the whole house shook”) everyone cuddles together, and afterward “things started to get better, a little every day.” The family appears White. Yaccarino’s bold lines and fluid figures against swaths of solid color and his use of shading and shadow are splendid. Outside the windows rain comes down at an angle. Inside there is the yellow glow of a lamp or blue of darkness and the harmony—or momentary clash—of family activity. Sun and blue sky finally make their appearance, and the family is seen in the yard picking up scattered leaves and sticks together, a reminder that the storm didn’t leave things unchanged or unscathed. The story feels emotionally true to the process of going through any profound crisis: a pandemic, death, divorce, or the prolonged absence of a parent who is deployed, a first responder, or battling an illness.

Resonant and reassuring. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 31, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-6626-5047-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: minedition

Review Posted Online: June 15, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2021


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


Nice enough but not worth repeat reads.

Emma deals with jitters before playing the guitar in the school talent show.

Pop musician Kevin Jonas and his wife, Danielle, put performance at the center of their picture-book debut. When Emma is intimidated by her very talented friends, the encouragement of her younger sister, Bella, and the support of her family help her to shine her own light. The story is straightforward and the moral familiar: Draw strength from your family and within to overcome your fears. Employing the performance-anxiety trope that’s been written many times over, the book plods along predictably—there’s nothing really new or surprising here. Dawson’s full-color digital illustrations center a White-presenting family along with Emma’s three friends of color: Jamila has tanned skin and wears a hijab; Wendy has dark brown skin and Afro puffs; and Luis has medium brown skin. Emma’s expressive eyes and face are the real draw of the artwork—from worry to embarrassment to joy, it’s clear what she’s feeling. A standout double-page spread depicts Emma’s talent show performance, with a rainbow swirl of music erupting from an amp and Emma rocking a glam outfit and electric guitar. Overall, the book reads pretty plainly, buoyed largely by the artwork. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Nice enough but not worth repeat reads. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: March 29, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-35207-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Razorbill/Penguin

Review Posted Online: Feb. 8, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2022

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