Timmie and his parents make their first visit to Gram at a nursing home; she's had to move there since "the doctors said she needed full-time nursing care." Until now, Gram has lived with Timmie's family, and it's so hard for Mom to see her here that she talks in an unnaturally bright voice, only to weep once she's outside. Rushing back to deliver a picture he forgot to leave and discovering Gram in tears too, Timmie pulls Mom back inside, where the honesty of shared grief provides at least some comfort. Bunting catches the nursing home ambience with empathy and precision—the sharp smell "like mouthwash, or the green bar that Mom hangs in the toilet bowl"; the elderly dozing in wheelchairs, intruding on one another's visitors, or joshing; their families filling time with small talk. In perceptive, realistic watercolors, de Groat characterizes Timmie's family with loving care and depicts the residents of the home in enough realistic variety to give young readers a good idea of what to expect on such a visit. A poignant slice of life in the 90's; Timmie's successful intervention sends the message that even a child can offer real consolation. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: March 21, 1994

ISBN: 0-395-63309-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Clarion Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 1994

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A retro-futuristic romp, literally and figuratively screwy.


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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Ready to fight boredom in a single bound, at least for a few minutes.


A small blond boy describes the many ways his nebbishy dad is a superhero.

From super snoring to super breakfasts (“toast with chocolate, and fruit, ice cream, and cake!”), this dad makes everything fun, playing dinosaurs, lifting and carrying his son, and building him an amazing (but rickety) wooden castle (not without a thumb injury, though, but he meant to do that!). These things might not seem like superhero deeds to most readers, and the narrator sees that question coming. He explains about the noises he hears at night in his room and how his dad comes in to rescue him with the flick of a light switch and his presence. “ ‘Superhero Dad,’ I say, / ‘you are the best by miles!’ / My dad says, / ‘I’m no Superhero,’ / then he stops and smiles. / ‘But I know a Superhero / who is brave and kind and fun. Who is it? // Why, it’s you! You are my SUPERHERO SON!’ ” It’s a sweet concept, but the execution is a little off. Knapman’s rhythm sometimes stumbles in his rhyming verses. Berger’s digital illustrations are filled with the bright colors that scream comics, though there aren’t as many sound effect balloons as one might expect from a superhero story. Both characters are white.

Ready to fight boredom in a single bound, at least for a few minutes. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: April 26, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-7636-8657-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: March 16, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2016

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