Overall, a sensitive approach to a difficult issue that will certainly provoke discussion.

A little girl and her grandmother wake early to prepare for the trip to visit the girl’s father.

There are smiles of excited anticipation as Grandma fries chicken and braids the little girl’s hair before they catch the bus. The bus ride has a festive air as the riders share lunch. Finally, they arrive at the prison where Daddy waits eagerly to see his daughter and mother. Once home, Grandma reassures the girl that “one day we’ll be able to wake up and have Daddy right there in our house again.” Ransome’s (Quilt Counting, p. 951, etc.) lovely, bold acrylic paintings depict the girl and her grandmother in a neat, well-ordered, well-cared-for environment—even the scenes in the prison are cheery and bright and imply that the inmates are not violent offenders. Woodson (Our Gracie Aunt, not reviewed, etc.) and Ransome accomplish the goal of representing a loving family holding up admirably in the face of adversity. Nevertheless, for some it may be difficult not to wonder what Daddy did to land in prison. The girl’s family may love each other unconditionally (as the jacket copy states), but it is a more difficult job for the reader whose questions about Daddy go unanswered. That all the prison inmates but one are black, as are all the visitors, while the prison guard is white raises another set of questions. Although this reflects a reality about disproportionate incarceration rates for African-American men, does it also perpetuate stereotypes?

Overall, a sensitive approach to a difficult issue that will certainly provoke discussion. (author and illustrator notes) (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2002

ISBN: 0-590-40005-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2002



Give this child’s-eye view of a day at the beach with an attentive father high marks for coziness: “When your ball blows across the sand and into the ocean and starts to drift away, your daddy could say, Didn’t I tell you not to play too close to the waves? But he doesn’t. He wades out into the cold water. And he brings your ball back to the beach and plays roll and catch with you.” Alley depicts a moppet and her relaxed-looking dad (to all appearances a single parent) in informally drawn beach and domestic settings: playing together, snuggling up on the sofa and finally hugging each other goodnight. The third-person voice is a bit distancing, but it makes the togetherness less treacly, and Dad’s mix of love and competence is less insulting, to parents and children both, than Douglas Wood’s What Dads Can’t Do (2000), illus by Doug Cushman. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: May 23, 2005

ISBN: 0-618-00361-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Clarion Books

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2005


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 2, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2020

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