Much needed in the landscape of family-oriented picture books.

MY MADDY

A loving, celebratory window into a young child’s relationship with their nonbinary parent.

The latest in Pitman’s LGBTQ books for children introduces young readers to a parent whose gender identity and expression are “entirely fantastically their own”—not a mommy or a daddy, but “my Maddy.” Told from the perspective of a light-skinned, redheaded child, the story normalizes what’s “in between, and kind of both,” which is everywhere in nature, from dawn (“it’s not day and it’s not night,” Maddy explains) to the color hazel (a mix between green and brown). Vignettes from the main characters’ everyday lives are vibrantly depicted in artist Tobacco’s bold, full-bleed illustrations, including walks to school, snacktime, and stories before bed. Particularly noteworthy is the heartwarming scene when Maddy kisses their kid goodbye before dropping them off at school: Beside a glowing portrait of the beaming family, the text reads, “Maddy’s kisses feel like sandpaper against my face.” Such positive images of gender-nonconforming presentations are rare in children’s literature, making this a valuable addition to any school, public, or personal library for its engaging art and accessible representation for a wide age range. The adult-oriented backmatter uses person-first language and identifies the book’s inspiration as intersex; notes on intersex identity and supporting children in understanding their parents’ genders are accompanied by resources. Unfortunately, one of these is the Human Rights Campaign, known for its fraught relationship with trans communities.

Much needed in the landscape of family-oriented picture books. (Picture book. 4-9)

Pub Date: May 25, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4338-3044-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Magination/American Psychological Association

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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A good bet for the youngest bird-watchers.

MAMA BUILT A LITTLE NEST

Echoing the meter of “Mary Had a Little Lamb,” Ward uses catchy original rhymes to describe the variety of nests birds create.

Each sweet stanza is complemented by a factual, engaging description of the nesting habits of each bird. Some of the notes are intriguing, such as the fact that the hummingbird uses flexible spider web to construct its cup-shaped nest so the nest will stretch as the chicks grow. An especially endearing nesting behavior is that of the emperor penguin, who, with unbelievable patience, incubates the egg between his tummy and his feet for up to 60 days. The author clearly feels a mission to impart her extensive knowledge of birds and bird behavior to the very young, and she’s found an appealing and attractive way to accomplish this. The simple rhymes on the left page of each spread, written from the young bird’s perspective, will appeal to younger children, and the notes on the right-hand page of each spread provide more complex factual information that will help parents answer further questions and satisfy the curiosity of older children. Jenkins’ accomplished collage illustrations of common bird species—woodpecker, hummingbird, cowbird, emperor penguin, eagle, owl, wren—as well as exotics, such as flamingoes and hornbills, are characteristically naturalistic and accurate in detail.

A good bet for the youngest bird-watchers.   (author’s note, further resources) (Informational picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 18, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4424-2116-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Beach Lane/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Jan. 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2014

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A good choice for just those days when Mom and Dad do go away and leave their children in charge of Grandpa.

HOW TO BABYSIT A GRANDPA

From the How To... series

Reagan’s second outing is a tongue-in-cheek reversal of roles as a young boy instructs readers on how best to entertain and care for a grandpa while Mom and Dad are away.

First, he instructs them to hide when Grandpa rings the doorbell—resist the wiggles and giggles, and only pop out when he gives up. Then, reassure him that Mom and Dad will be back and distract him with a snack—heavy on the ice cream, cookies, ketchup and olives. Throughout the day, the narrator takes his grandpa for a walk, entertains him, plays with him, puts him down for a nap and encourages him to clean up before Mom and Dad’s return. Lists on almost every spread give readers a range of ideas for things to try, provided their grandfathers are not diabetic or arthritic, or have high blood pressure or a heart condition. These lists also provide Wildish with lots of fodder for his vignette illustrations. His digital artwork definitely focuses on the humor, with laugh-out-loud scenes and funny hidden details. And his characters’ expressive faces also help to fill in the grandfather-grandson relationship that Reagan's deadpan narrative leaves unstated.

A good choice for just those days when Mom and Dad do go away and leave their children in charge of Grandpa. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: April 10, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-375-86713-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Feb. 5, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2012

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