Beware the power of older siblings! (Picture book. 5-8)

WHILE YOU WERE NAPPING

A wickedly naughty big sister recounts all the fun her brother misses while he’s napping.

The text’s focus isn’t on sibling rivalry, but this dynamic is unquestionably its seed. Kicked out of the nest by little brothers and sisters, elder children exact revenge in devious ways—who can forget Lilly’s cribside antics in Kevin Henkes’ Julius, the Baby of the World? In that title, Lilly is reformed and comes to love and protect her baby brother; no such resolution emerges in Offill’s mischievous hands. The entire book is made up of the sister’s descriptions of all the fun that she and the neighborhood children had while little brother was napping, and she regales (tortures?) him with tales of pirates, robots, bulldozers, dinosaur bones, french-fry sandwiches, fireworks and firefighters. Sparing not one grain of salt in the wound, wry text reads, “you were the only kid napping / when it happened.” The appearance of astronauts ends the naptime orgy of exclusive fun. “Luckily, you slept right through it” is the concluding line, and it’s accompanied by a picture depicting the boy scowling in bed and the sister perching at its foot. Toys and decorations bespeaking the boy’s interest in all of the things she’s described fill the bedroom, and it’s a shame that earlier illustrations didn’t include more of this real-world context.

Beware the power of older siblings! (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 23, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-375-86572-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Schwartz & Wade/Random

Review Posted Online: July 29, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2014

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

MY LITTLE BRAVE GIRL

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.

ROBOBABY

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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