These sweet sibs show no signs of growing old—thank goodness.


From the Benny and Penny series

Gently bickering mouse siblings Benny and Penny have another backyard adventure, this time when they search for Benny’s lost pirate hat.

As the book opens, Benny is in a real funk—“a BAD mood!” His pirate hat is lost again, this time for two days. Mommy says he needs to stay outside until his good mood is restored. Equal parts helpful and hindering, Penny tags along on his quest, the fog-enshrouded backyard presenting a landscape it’s all too easy to imagine getting lost in. Over the course of this brief, comic-book story, the children explore a number of valences of lost and found. Benny loses Penny when she darts into the underbrush, having found her lost jump rope. He instructs her, “we need to be lost together.” When Penny frets that they are “REALLY lost,” Benny insists they aren’t: “We are right here.” Hayes also takes the opportunity to explore preschoolers’ mercurial emotions. The sibs are effective emotional foils for each other, Penny’s buoyant cheer grating on Benny’s determined dudgeon before she becomes anxious, then angry, then sad and frightened. Benny’s brave decision to be in a good mood marks a literal turning point, bringing the little lost mice home again. Hayes’ colored-pencil panels keep their sunny charm even in the fog.

These sweet sibs show no signs of growing old—thank goodness. (Graphic early reader. 5-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 5, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-935179-64-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: TOON/Candlewick

Review Posted Online: June 29, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2014

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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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Heartfelt content for children who need to feel seen.


Words addressed to children aimed at truth-telling, encouraging, and inspiring are accompanied by pictures of children of color going about their days.

“This story is about you,” the narrator opens, as a black boy looks up toward readers, a listening expression on his face. A multiracial group of children romp in a playground to encouraging words: “you are… / a dancer / a singer / in charge of the game.” Then comes a warning about the “whispers” out in the world that “tell you who you are / But only you and love decide.” There is advice about what to do when you “think there is nowhere safe”: “Watch a bird soar / and think, / Me too.” It asks readers to wonder: “If there was a sign on your chest / what would it say?” Children argue and show frustration and anger for reasons unclear to readers, then they hold up signs about themselves, such as “I am powerful” and “I am talented.” A girl looks hurt, and a boy looks “tough” until someone finds them “sitting there wondering / when the sky will blue.” While the words are general, the pictures specify a teacher, who is brown-skinned with straight black hair, as one who “can see you.” While young readers may find the wording unusual, even obscure in places, the nurturing message will not be lost.

Heartfelt content for children who need to feel seen. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-68446-021-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Capstone Young Readers

Review Posted Online: Aug. 14, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2018

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