A playful and poignant take on parenthood.

MY LITTLE ONE

The parent becomes the child in this sparsely worded French import.

The illustrations, done by 2020 Hans Christian Andersen Illustrator Award winner Albertine, rest in copious white space. They are spare, delicate line drawings in what appear to be pencil (no other color is applied) of a short-haired, dress-clad adult, as white as the page. All drawings appear on the recto; if one were to flip the book’s pages, the drawings would appear animated. The adult exclaims, “Here you are… // Finally!” and then cradles a miniscule but fully mature-looking adult, who appears to have emerged from the heart of the speaker. “I’ve been waiting for you,” reads the text. As the adult speaks fondly to the child (“my little one!”), telling them “our story,” embracing them, and even swinging them around in the air, the child grows tall. Gradually, the child is as tall as the parent once was while the parent shrinks in size. The child now cradles the parent until, bringing the story full circle, the parent seemingly disappears into the heart of its own offspring. The sense of movement on static pages is compelling—all in the form of fine, simple lines and dynamic page turns. This elegant story may tug more at the hearts of adult caregivers, but it surely provides food for thought for more-contemplative children, who may wonder at the notion that both characters at different times are the subjects of the book’s title. (This book was reviewed digitally with 12-by-17-inch double-page spreads viewed at actual size.)

A playful and poignant take on parenthood. (Picture book. 5-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 27, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-939810-66-3

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Elsewhere Editions

Review Posted Online: July 3, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2020

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Readers can still rely on this series to bring laughs.

WRECKING BALL

From the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series , Vol. 14

The Heffley family’s house undergoes a disastrous attempt at home improvement.

When Great Aunt Reba dies, she leaves some money to the family. Greg’s mom calls a family meeting to determine what to do with their share, proposing home improvements and then overruling the family’s cartoonish wish lists and instead pushing for an addition to the kitchen. Before bringing in the construction crew, the Heffleys attempt to do minor maintenance and repairs themselves—during which Greg fails at the work in various slapstick scenes. Once the professionals are brought in, the problems keep getting worse: angry neighbors, terrifying problems in walls, and—most serious—civil permitting issues that put the kibosh on what work’s been done. Left with only enough inheritance to patch and repair the exterior of the house—and with the school’s dismal standardized test scores as a final straw—Greg’s mom steers the family toward moving, opening up house-hunting and house-selling storylines (and devastating loyal Rowley, who doesn’t want to lose his best friend). While Greg’s positive about the move, he’s not completely uncaring about Rowley’s action. (And of course, Greg himself is not as unaffected as he wishes.) The gags include effectively placed callbacks to seemingly incidental events (the “stress lizard” brought in on testing day is particularly funny) and a lampoon of after-school-special–style problem books. Just when it seems that the Heffleys really will move, a new sequence of chaotic trouble and property destruction heralds a return to the status quo. Whew.

Readers can still rely on this series to bring laughs. (Graphic/fiction hybrid. 8-12)

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4197-3903-3

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Amulet/Abrams

Review Posted Online: Nov. 19, 2019

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A solid debut: fluent, funny and eminently sequel-worthy.

ALMOST SUPER

Inventively tweaking a popular premise, Jensen pits two Incredibles-style families with superpowers against each other—until a new challenge rises to unite them.

The Johnsons invariably spit at the mere mention of their hated rivals, the Baileys. Likewise, all Baileys habitually shake their fists when referring to the Johnsons. Having long looked forward to getting a superpower so that he too can battle his clan’s nemeses, Rafter Bailey is devastated when, instead of being able to fly or something else cool, he acquires the “power” to strike a match on soft polyester. But when hated classmate Juanita Johnson turns up newly endowed with a similarly bogus power and, against all family tradition, they compare notes, it becomes clear that something fishy is going on. Both families regard themselves as the heroes and their rivals as the villains. Someone has been inciting them to fight each other. Worse yet, that someone has apparently developed a device that turns real superpowers into silly ones. Teaching themselves on the fly how to get past their prejudice and work together, Rafter, his little brother, Benny, and Juanita follow a well-laid-out chain of clues and deductions to the climactic discovery of a third, genuinely nefarious family, the Joneses, and a fiendishly clever scheme to dispose of all the Baileys and Johnsons at once. Can they carry the day?

A solid debut: fluent, funny and eminently sequel-worthy. (Adventure. 10-12)

Pub Date: Jan. 21, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-06-220961-0

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2013

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