Sensitive, thorough, loving guidance that helps smooth the adoption process for siblings-to-be.



When a canine family gets ready to adopt, a young dog learns about being a big brother in this picture book.

Although the Barker family—Buford, Winnie, and 3-year-old Gus—is a happy one, something is missing. Gus would love a puppy to cavort with, and his parents would like an addition to the family. So when Mr. and Mrs. Barker tell Gus they’re adopting, he exults: “I’m going to be a big brother!” As his parents go through the process, they tell Gus what to expect. After his new brother, Pacco, arrives, Gus has more changes to navigate, such as sharing toys and attention. But he loves playing with Pacco. When others think that Pacco is a friend, Gus replies proudly: “Nope, I’m his big brother!” Lonczak, in her latest children’s book focused on teaching resilience, does an admirable job of helping prepare kids for a family adoption. Adults, too, can benefit from how the work thinks through possible problems and offers effective solutions; for example, while Gus will give some of his toys to Pacco, he can keep his favorite ones. Warmth and affection underlie the story, as when Gus is reassured that “your parents have oodles of love for you. And when we add a new pup to a family…the love just grows even bigger.” Varjotie creates a friendly, relaxed atmosphere with her soft colors, rounded edges, and animals that combine realistic and anthropomorphic features.

Sensitive, thorough, loving guidance that helps smooth the adoption process for siblings-to-be.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-9786093-8-2

Page Count: 44

Publisher: IngramSpark

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2020

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Well-meaning and with a lovely presentation, this sentimental effort may be aimed more at adults than kids.


Little girls are given encouragement and assurance so they can meet the challenges of life as they move through the big, wide world.

Delicately soft watercolor-style art depicts naturalistic scenes with a diverse quintet of little girls portraying potential situations they will encounter, as noted by a narrative heavily dependent on a series of clichés. “The stars are high, and you can reach them,” it promises as three of the girls chase fireflies under a star-filled night sky. “Oceans run deep, and you will learn to swim,” it intones as one girl treads water and another leans over the edge of a boat to observe life on the ocean floor. “Your feet will take many steps, my brave little girl. / Let your heart lead the way.” Girls gingerly step across a brook before making their way through a meadow. The point of all these nebulous metaphors seems to be to inculcate in girls the independence, strength, and confidence they’ll need to succeed in their pursuits. Trying new things, such as foods, is a “delicious new adventure.” Though the quiet, gentle text is filled with uplifting words that parents will intuitively relate to or comprehend, the esoteric messages may be a bit sentimental and ambiguous for kids to understand or even connect to. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10.5-by-19-inch double-page spreads viewed at 50% of actual size.)

Well-meaning and with a lovely presentation, this sentimental effort may be aimed more at adults than kids. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: March 23, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-30072-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Jan. 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2021

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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

Review Posted Online: June 3, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2020

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