WASHDAY

An appealing snapshot of rough-hewn life that might well make kids appreciate washing machines.

It’s washday. That doesn’t mean putting clothes in the washing machine and turning the knob or driving to the laundromat; it’s 1889, when it’s the old-fashioned way of getting clothes clean.

Lizzie and her doll, Amelia Cordelia, walk to her grandmother’s house to help because her Ma is soon to have a baby. The work is hard: boiling water in a big copper kettle; adding shavings of lye soap; sorting the clothes by color (whites for Sunday “go-to-meeting” clothes); using the broom handle to lift the hot clothing into rinse water; putting them through the wringer; and drying them on the outdoor clothesline. Taking a break with a glass of buttermilk, Lizzie is sad thinking about the doll tea party she was supposed to have with her friend that day. Surprise! Grandma has set the table for a tea party with special dishes and doll-size snickerdoodles and places for her best friend and her doll. Bunting evokes a homespun experience with emotions and details that the pencil-and-watercolor illustrations adroitly augment. Sneed neither whitewashes nor prettifies the harshness of the time; Grandma is a robust woman with hair in a bun and a big nose. Historical details like hairstyles and sturdy black shoes combine with phrases like “Grandma’s dog…has the misery in his back” to make the story feel genuine.

An appealing snapshot of rough-hewn life that might well make kids appreciate washing machines. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: April 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-8234-2868-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: Jan. 28, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2014

ROBOBABY

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 2, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2020

JOSÉ AND EL PERRO

Cuándo quieras un perro feliz, look no further.

A young Latine boy finally gets to rescue the dog of his dreams, but training can be a challenge in two languages.

Like many children, José has been dreaming of having a pet of his own, specifically un perro, a dog. Like any good owner, José promptly begins training his new canine companion but soon realizes his rescue mutt, Feliz, knows only words in English. This is a problem because in José’s home everyone speaks both Spanish and English. José and Feliz must rise to the challenge; fortunately, treats and snuggles are great motivators. The narrative uses Spanish words and phrases throughout (“perros blancos,” “¡Yo quiero este!” “¡Sientate!”), usually with English context clues for understanding. This is complex vocabulary for an early reader, and the shifting in phonics from English to Spanish will be challenging for true beginners; the book is best suited for intermediate to advanced readers in dual-language classrooms or homes. Much like Feliz, however, it is sure to find a loving (and bilingual) home. Cheerful illustrations complement the text, helping readers make sense of the narrative. While José and his mother are darker-skinned, his father and sister are lighter-skinned. (This review has been updated for accuracy.)

Cuándo quieras un perro feliz, look no further. (glossary of Spanish-English words) (Early reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: April 25, 2023

ISBN: 978-0-593-52116-8

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Penguin Workshop

Review Posted Online: Jan. 11, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2023

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