A tender reminder that family and culture can buoy us after loss.

Gracie’s grandpa died recently, and her grandmother is grieving.

Usually, when Bubbe visits, she and Gracie do all kinds of things together, but this time Bubbe is too sad. When Bubbe mentions how she loved using Yiddish words with Gracie’s grandfather, the little girl asks her grandmother to teach her Yiddish. Gracie already knows zayde (grandfather) and bubbe, but Bubbe teaches her other words, some of which have passed into English and which readers may already know, like nosh (“eat a snack”). Bubala, as Bubbe explained earlier, means “little grandmother” and is a term of endearment. And at bedtime, Bubbe tells Gracie, “A gute nakht” (“goodnight”). Bubbe uses Yiddish words in context, and Grace picks them up easily, as will readers. Slowly, as the two bond over the language, Bubbe starts to smile and even laughs out loud one day. Colorful, stylized illustrations show a family resemblance among Gracie, her mom, and her grandma. The reality of death is introduced, but the focus is on naches, or joy, that one’s children and grandchildren can bring, even after a loved one dies. This is a gentle take on coping with a loss that can be used in educational settings or among families. In an author’s note, Sutton explains that “Different people pronounce these words in different ways.” The main characters are light-skinned and Jewish; Gracie’s neighborhood is diverse. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A tender reminder that family and culture can buoy us after loss. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-8075-1023-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Whitman

Review Posted Online: June 21, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2022


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


Accessible, reassuring and hopeful.

This endearing picture book about a timid boy who longs to belong has an agenda but delivers its message with great sensitivity.

Brian wants to join in but is overlooked, even ostracized, by his classmates. Readers first see him alone on the front endpapers, drawing in chalk on the ground. The school scenarios are uncomfortably familiar: High-maintenance children get the teacher’s attention; team captains choose kickball players by popularity and athletic ability; chatter about birthday parties indicates they are not inclusive events. Tender illustrations rendered in glowing hues capture Brian’s isolation deftly; compared to the others and his surroundings, he appears in black and white. What saves Brian is his creativity. As he draws, Brian imagines amazing stories, including a poignant one about a superhero with the power to make friends. When a new boy takes some ribbing, it is Brian who leaves an illustrated note to make him feel better. The boy does not forget this gesture. It only takes one person noticing Brian for the others to see his talents have value; that he has something to contribute. Brian’s colors pop. In the closing endpapers, Brian’s classmates are spread around him on the ground, “wearing” his chalk-drawn wings and capes. Use this to start a discussion: The author includes suggested questions and recommended reading lists for adults and children.

Accessible, reassuring and hopeful. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 8, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-582-46450-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Aug. 20, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2013

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