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A DAY IN THE LIFE OF MARLON BUNDO

Good for a chuckle for adults who support LGBTQ rights, but those who want to share inclusive stories with children should...

In direct response to Charlotte Pence and Karen Pence’s anodyne Marlon Bundo’s A Day in the Life of the Vice President (2018), a lifted middle finger to Vice President Mike Pence’s homophobia.

Informing readers that “this story isn’t going to be about [the vice president], because he isn’t very fun,” black-and-white bunny Marlon Bundo relates the events of his Very Special Day, which really begins when he espies Wesley, a “bunny-beautiful” lop-eared, bespectacled brown rabbit, in the garden. (In Keller’s accompanying illustration, Wesley is depicted heroically from a low perspective, enhaloed in the sun’s golden rays.) They hop happily together through house and garden and then decide to marry, at which point The Stink Bug (bearing a head of recognizable white hair) appears on the scene to tell them that “Boy Bunnies Don’t Marry Boy Bunnies!” Marlon Bundo, Wesley, and their animal friends discuss their various differences and then vote The Stink Bug “not in charge.” Attended by “two handsome grooms-otters,” Marlon Bundo and Wesley are then married by a lesbian cat minister. Adult viewers of the satirical TV show Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, which is behind this stunt, will love it. However, even as it delivers its message, the story takes easy jabs at the format it’s delivered in, and the result is yet another tiresome political picture book that’s nominally for children but really winks at other adults over their heads. Proceeds go to the Trevor Project and AIDS United.

Good for a chuckle for adults who support LGBTQ rights, but those who want to share inclusive stories with children should look elsewhere. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: March 19, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4521-7380-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: March 19, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2018

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CARPENTER'S HELPER

Renata’s wren encounter proves magical, one most children could only wish to experience outside of this lovely story.

A home-renovation project is interrupted by a family of wrens, allowing a young girl an up-close glimpse of nature.

Renata and her father enjoy working on upgrading their bathroom, installing a clawfoot bathtub, and cutting a space for a new window. One warm night, after Papi leaves the window space open, two wrens begin making a nest in the bathroom. Rather than seeing it as an unfortunate delay of their project, Renata and Papi decide to let the avian carpenters continue their work. Renata witnesses the birth of four chicks as their rosy eggs split open “like coats that are suddenly too small.” Renata finds at a crucial moment that she can help the chicks learn to fly, even with the bittersweet knowledge that it will only hasten their exits from her life. Rosen uses lively language and well-chosen details to move the story of the baby birds forward. The text suggests the strong bond built by this Afro-Latinx father and daughter with their ongoing project without needing to point it out explicitly, a light touch in a picture book full of delicate, well-drawn moments and precise wording. Garoche’s drawings are impressively detailed, from the nest’s many small bits to the developing first feathers on the chicks and the wall smudges and exposed wiring of the renovation. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10-by-20-inch double-page spreads viewed at actual size.)

Renata’s wren encounter proves magical, one most children could only wish to experience outside of this lovely story. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: March 16, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-12320-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Schwartz & Wade/Random

Review Posted Online: Jan. 12, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2021

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ADDIE ANT GOES ON AN ADVENTURE

Young readers will be “antsy” to join the hero on her satisfying escapade.

An ant explores her world.

Addie Ant’s ready for adventure. Despite some trepidation about leaving the Tomato Bed, where she lives with her aunt, she plucks up her courage and ventures forth across the garden to the far side of the shed. On her journey, she meets her pal Lewis Ladybug, who greets her warmly, points the way, and offers sage advice. When Addie arrives at her destination, she’s welcomed by lovely Beatrix Butterfly and enjoys an “ant-tastic” helping of watermelon. Beatrix also provides Addie with take-home treats and a map for the “Cricket Express,” which will take her straight home. Arriving at the terminal, Addie’s delighted to meet another friend, Cleo Cricket, whose carriage service returns Addie home in “two hops.” After eating a warm tomato soup dinner, Addie falls asleep and dreams of future exploits. Adorable though not terribly original, this story brims with sensuous pleasures, both textual and visual. Kids who declare that they dislike fruits or veggies may find their mouths watering at the mentions and sights of luscious tomatoes, peas, beans, watermelons, berries, and other foodstuffs; insect-averse readers may likewise think differently after encountering these convivial, wide-eyed characters. And those flowers and herbs everywhere! The highlights are the colors that burst from the pages. Addie’s an endearing, empowering character who reassures children they’ll be able to take those first independent steps successfully.

Young readers will be “antsy” to join the hero on her satisfying escapade. (author’s note about ants) (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: April 9, 2024

ISBN: 9781797228914

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: Feb. 3, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2024

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