Readers who have graduated to chapter books may enjoy the imaginative adventures of the babysat, but caregivers may want to...


From the Marge in Charge series , Vol. 2

These three new chapters chronicling Marge’s babysitting antics (Marge in Charge, 2017) include a new baby, a trip to the swimming pool, and wedding mishaps.

Rainbow-haired Marge is a modern twist on Amelia Bedelia and Mary Poppins, creating genial havoc in the lives of her charges. Jemima and her little brother, “Jakeypants,” now joined by their destructive baby cousin, Zara, love the zany stories Marge tells them as she’s working. Whether it’s casting Zara as a pirate baby or convincing Jake to put on sunscreen, Jemima relates these adventures in a boppy, upbeat tone with liberal use of exclamation marks. Marge, who may (or may not) be a duchess, peppers the narrative with tales hinting at England’s colonialist past. While embedded in a seemingly all-white cast, Marge claims she “decided to sail to Africa…to explore faraway lands.” Later, a spot illustration shows her dressed in stereotypical Bedouin garb, reminiscing about the time she “galloped across the Arabian Desert…on a royal expedition.” Early on Jake jeeringly compares baby Zara’s “fat thighs” to a sumo wrestler’s, and the stories seem actively intent on avoiding any textual or emotional depth.

Readers who have graduated to chapter books may enjoy the imaginative adventures of the babysat, but caregivers may want to point them toward stories that are more meaningful or less cloying. (Fiction. 6-9)

Pub Date: May 8, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-266221-7

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: March 4, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2018

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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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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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