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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Fun but earnest, this rhyming romp reminds readers that one young person can make a difference.


From the Questioneers series

Sofia Valdez proves that community organizers of any age can have a positive impact.

After a trash-heap eyesore causes an injury to her beloved abuelo, Sofia springs into action to bring big change to her neighborhood. The simple rhymes of the text follow Sofia on her journey from problem through ideas to action as she garners community support for an idyllic new park to replace the dangerous junk pile. When bureaucracy threatens to quash Sofia’s nascent plan, she digs deep and reflects that “being brave means doing the thing you must do, / though your heart cracks with fear. / Though you’re just in Grade Two.” Sofia’s courage yields big results and inspires those around her to lend a hand. Implied Latinx, Sofia and her abuelo have medium brown skin, and Sofia has straight brown hair (Abuelo is bald). Readers will recognize Iggy Peck, Rosie Revere, and Ada Twist from Beaty’s previous installments in the Questioneers series making cameo appearances in several scenes. While the story connects back to the title and her aptitude for the presidency in only the second-to-last sentence of the book, Sofia’s leadership and grit are themes throughout. Roberts’ signature illustration style lends a sense of whimsy; detailed drawings will have readers scouring each page for interesting minutiae.

Fun but earnest, this rhyming romp reminds readers that one young person can make a difference. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4197-3704-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: Nov. 24, 2019

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Patchy work, both visually and teleologically.


The sultana of high-fructose sentimentality reminds readers that they really are all that.

Despite the title, we’re actually here for a couple of reasons. In fulsome if vague language Tillman embeds one message, that acts of kindness “may triple for days… / or set things in motion in different ways,” in a conceptually separate proposition that she summarizes thus: “perhaps you forgot— / a piece of the world that is precious and dear / would surely be missing if you weren’t here.” Her illustrations elaborate on both themes in equally abstract terms: a lad releases a red kite that ends up a sled for fox kits, while its ribbons add decorative touches to bird nests and a moose before finally being vigorously twirled by a girl and (startlingly) a pair of rearing tigers. Without transition the focus then shifts as the kite is abruptly replaced by a red ball. Both embodied metaphors, plus children and animals, gather at the end for a closing circle dance. The illustrator lavishes attention throughout on figures of children and wild animals, which are depicted with such microscopically precise realism that every fine hair and feather is visible, but she then floats them slightly above hazy, generic backdrops. The overall design likewise has a slapdash feel, as some spreads look relatively crowded with verses while others bear only a single line or phrase.

Patchy work, both visually and teleologically. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-250-05626-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Review Posted Online: June 23, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2015

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