A sweet book to share with young children who are separated from someone they love.

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Faraway Father

In this gentle picture book, a family stays connected to Dad while he’s deployed overseas during World War II.

On the day Naomi was born, her father was drafted into the Army. Yet even as a baby, she knew that “Love was his gift to me, and I kept it, deep inside.” Debut children’s author Hill’s cheerful watercolor-and-ink images subtly convey the 1940s while her child-friendly story transcends time and place. Quiet humor keeps the overall mood light; when Naomi’s parents hug goodbye, for example, she says, “I got a little bit squeezed. I went ‘Oof!’ and they laughed through their tears.” From Naomi’s bath in the sink to her first taste of “dribbly applesauce,” her mother celebrates milestones in daily letters to her father, and he writes to them about “the blast of a bugle” and how he “missed Mom’s cooking.” Dad’s photograph is often “keeping us company,” Naomi says, yet his absence never overwhelms the story. Using that photo, Naomi draws a picture of her father, which her mother sends with her next letter. In a touching two-page illustration, the father and several other soldiers lean against trees, reading letters with dreamy smiles on their faces. Her father writes back, “I’m doing okay. I miss you two! Naomi’s drawing is a treasure.” After two-and-a-half years, a man with brown eyes and wavy hair appears in Naomi’s doorway holding her mother’s hand. She recognizes him: “I knew he was my father, home at last!” On the final page, the parents’ arms encircle the radiant girl, an image reminiscent of their farewell embrace but featuring smiles instead of tears. Throughout the book, Hill’s text emphasizes the love between parents and child, even while delicately acknowledging their sad, lonely feelings. The author artfully renders faces in soft, bright colors, and they express affection on every page. With better paper quality and a more professional cover, this book would be a long-lasting addition to any family’s collection.

A sweet book to share with young children who are separated from someone they love.

Pub Date: May 22, 2015

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: The Troy Book Makers

Review Posted Online: Nov. 3, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2015

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With Ivan’s movie out this year from Disney, expect great interest—it will be richly rewarded.

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THE ONE AND ONLY BOB

Tiny, sassy Bob the dog, friend of The One and Only Ivan (2012), returns to tell his tale.

Wisecracking Bob, who is a little bit Chihuahua among other things, now lives with his girl, Julia, and her parents. Happily, her father works at Wildworld Zoological Park and Sanctuary, the zoo where Bob’s two best friends, Ivan the gorilla and Ruby the elephant, live, so Bob gets to visit and catch up with them regularly. Due to an early betrayal, Bob doesn’t trust humans (most humans are good only for their thumbs); he fears he’s going soft living with Julia, and he’s certain he is a Bad Dog—as in “not a good representative of my species.” On a visit to the zoo with a storm threatening, Bob accidentally falls into the gorilla enclosure just as a tornado strikes. So that’s what it’s like to fly. In the storm’s aftermath, Bob proves to everyone (and finally himself) that there is a big heart in that tiny chest…and a brave one too. With this companion, Applegate picks up where her Newbery Medal winner left off, and fans will be overjoyed to ride along in the head of lovable, self-deprecating Bob on his storm-tossed adventure. His wry doggy observations and attitude are pitch perfect (augmented by the canine glossary and Castelao’s picture dictionary of dog postures found in the frontmatter). Gorilla Ivan described Julia as having straight, black hair in the previous title, and Castelao's illustrations in that volume showed her as pale-skinned. (Finished art not available for review.)

With Ivan’s movie out this year from Disney, expect great interest—it will be richly rewarded. (afterword) (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: May 5, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-299131-7

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: March 25, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2020

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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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