In this era of Tiger Mothers, attachment parenting, the mommy track and The Three-Martini Playdate, Cronin and Cornell’s...

M.O.M. (MOM OPERATING MANUAL)

Ostensibly a guide for children on the care and feeding of mothers, this lengthy picture book has unlikely kid appeal but may emerge as the hit of the soccer-mom and baby-shower circuits. 

Cornell ratchets up the humor of her cartoon-style illustrations to depict Cronin’s “Brief Historical Overview” from “Prehistoric Sludge Mom” to “Cave Mom” to “Pilgrim” and “Hippie Mom(s).” The book focuses, however, on contemporary motherhood’s challenges, telling children “there are many things you can do to ensure many years of trouble-free operation” of their moms, who need regular amounts of “SNEW” (sleep, nutrition, exercise and water) for optimal performance. Following pages humorously describe how to guarantee sufficient SNEW levels and recount the perils of its inadequate delivery. Cronin’s conceit gets a little tired, particularly when resorting to placing blame for the “Malfunctioning Mom” or “Cranky Mom” on fathers, but Cornell’s well-designed and well-paced spreads make the most of every bit of textual humor.

In this era of Tiger Mothers, attachment parenting, the mommy track and The Three-Martini Playdate, Cronin and Cornell’s collaboration will strike a nerve with moms looking for a laugh and a bit of validation—if only they can find the time to read it! (Picture book. Adult)

Pub Date: Oct. 4, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-4169-6150-5

Page Count: 56

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: April 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2011

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Readers can still rely on this series to bring laughs.

WRECKING BALL

From the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series , Vol. 14

The Heffley family’s house undergoes a disastrous attempt at home improvement.

When Great Aunt Reba dies, she leaves some money to the family. Greg’s mom calls a family meeting to determine what to do with their share, proposing home improvements and then overruling the family’s cartoonish wish lists and instead pushing for an addition to the kitchen. Before bringing in the construction crew, the Heffleys attempt to do minor maintenance and repairs themselves—during which Greg fails at the work in various slapstick scenes. Once the professionals are brought in, the problems keep getting worse: angry neighbors, terrifying problems in walls, and—most serious—civil permitting issues that put the kibosh on what work’s been done. Left with only enough inheritance to patch and repair the exterior of the house—and with the school’s dismal standardized test scores as a final straw—Greg’s mom steers the family toward moving, opening up house-hunting and house-selling storylines (and devastating loyal Rowley, who doesn’t want to lose his best friend). While Greg’s positive about the move, he’s not completely uncaring about Rowley’s action. (And of course, Greg himself is not as unaffected as he wishes.) The gags include effectively placed callbacks to seemingly incidental events (the “stress lizard” brought in on testing day is particularly funny) and a lampoon of after-school-special–style problem books. Just when it seems that the Heffleys really will move, a new sequence of chaotic trouble and property destruction heralds a return to the status quo. Whew.

Readers can still rely on this series to bring laughs. (Graphic/fiction hybrid. 8-12)

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4197-3903-3

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Amulet/Abrams

Review Posted Online: Nov. 19, 2019

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A joyful celebration.

FAMILIES BELONG

Families in a variety of configurations play, dance, and celebrate together.

The rhymed verse, based on a song from the Noodle Loaf children’s podcast, declares that “Families belong / Together like a puzzle / Different-sized people / One big snuggle.” The accompanying image shows an interracial couple of caregivers (one with brown skin and one pale) cuddling with a pajama-clad toddler with light brown skin and surrounded by two cats and a dog. Subsequent pages show a wide array of families with members of many different racial presentations engaging in bike and bus rides, indoor dance parties, and more. In some, readers see only one caregiver: a father or a grandparent, perhaps. One same-sex couple with two children in tow are expecting another child. Smart’s illustrations are playful and expressive, curating the most joyful moments of family life. The verse, punctuated by the word together, frequently set in oversized font, is gently inclusive at its best but may trip up readers with its irregular rhythms. The song that inspired the book can be found on the Noodle Loaf website.

A joyful celebration. (Board book. 1-3)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-22276-8

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Rise x Penguin Workshop

Review Posted Online: Nov. 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2020

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