Cuddle up for a rainy-day adventure.

TAP TAP BOOM BOOM

A sudden thunderstorm inspires an impromptu gathering of congenial strangers.

It all begins with darkening skies and a few drops of rain. Out come the umbrellas as the thunder roars, the wind swirls, and the rain comes pouring down. People make a run for it to the shelter of the subway. There are lots of smiles and laughter and sharing—a brief communal moment—and then it’s over, and everyone disperses to see a rainbow: “[s]urprise in sky.” Bluemle employs bouncy, fast-paced rhymes and rhythms with words that emphasize sound and movement. The title phrase repeats throughout, augmented by “slam bang” and with an additional “crackle” to indicate lightning as the storm intensifies. The text, appropriately varied in size and boldness to match the storm’s activity, moves across mostly double-paged spreads and intermingles with the illustrations. Karas, perhaps influenced by Mo Willems’ Knuffle Bunny, sets gouache and pencil drawings within collages of photographs of New York City. Backgrounds appear subtly rain-washed or as faded sepia photos of buildings. Blacks, grays and earth tones are highlighted with taxi-yellow and occasional pops of orange, red and green. The ethnically diverse characters are animated as they head for the subway stairs, and there are delightful details to elicit giggles from young readers.

Cuddle up for a rainy-day adventure. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: March 25, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-7636-5696-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Dec. 18, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2014

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A quiet, thought-provoking story of environmental change and the power humans have to slow it.

THE OLD BOAT

A multigenerational tale of a boat’s life with a Black family, written by two brothers who loved similar boats.

In the opening spread, a smiling, brown-skinned adult dangles a line from the back of a green-and-white boat while a boy peers eagerly over the side at the sea life. The text never describes years passing, but each page turn reveals the boy’s aging, more urban development on the shore, increasing water pollution, marine-life changes (sea jellies abound on one page), and shifting water levels. Eventually, the boy, now a teenager, steers the boat, and as an adult, he fishes alone but must go farther and farther out to sea to make his catch. One day, the man loses his way, capsizes in a storm, and washes up on a small bay island, with the overturned, sunken boat just offshore. Now a “new sailor” cleans up the land and water with others’ help. The physical similarities between the shipwrecked sailor and the “new sailor” suggest that this is not a new person but one whose near-death experience has led to an epiphany that changes his relationship to water. As the decaying boat becomes a new marine habitat, the sailor teaches the next generation (a child with hair in two Afro puffs) to fish. Focusing primarily on the sea, the book’s earth-toned illustrations, created with hundreds of stamps, carry the compelling plot.

A quiet, thought-provoking story of environmental change and the power humans have to slow it. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-324-00517-9

Page Count: 56

Publisher: Norton Young Readers

Review Posted Online: Dec. 25, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2021

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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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