A reassuring book with kid-friendly explanations that celebrate the maternal bond.

READ REVIEW

WHEN YOU LIVED IN MY BELLY

In this children’s picture book, a mother explains what her growing baby was doing during pregnancy, month to month.

For kids who are curious about what it was like to develop in utero, this book by blogger Darter helps answer their questions. Rhyming couplets explain the mother’s point of view and the baby’s monthly stages of development. In month three, for example, “My belly got bigger and harder to hide, / I was happy to tell people you were living inside. / You had arms, hands, fingers, feet, and toes, / You could even make your fists open and close.” The meter can be uneven and some rhymes are off (such as "formed" with "yawned"), but overall the verse is appealing and informative. Illustrators King and Camarra combine photos with pastel paintings outlined in black, decorated with hearts and flowers. The blonde white mother is always gently smiling, often with eyes downturned to her belly, cut away to show the developing baby. Perhaps understandably, Darter only hints at the discomforts of pregnancy and pain of childbirth. Instead, the focus is all on the joy of having a baby, with comforting messages for young readers, like, “I am so grateful you grew close to my heart, / And I always loved you right from the start.” Altogether, it’s a gentle, sweet introduction to the basics of fetal development and what pregnancy is like.

A reassuring book with kid-friendly explanations that celebrate the maternal bond.

Pub Date: Aug. 6, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5439-6031-0

Page Count: 38

Publisher: Mascot Books

Review Posted Online: June 19, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

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Readers can still rely on this series to bring laughs.

WRECKING BALL

From the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series , Vol. 14

The Heffley family’s house undergoes a disastrous attempt at home improvement.

When Great Aunt Reba dies, she leaves some money to the family. Greg’s mom calls a family meeting to determine what to do with their share, proposing home improvements and then overruling the family’s cartoonish wish lists and instead pushing for an addition to the kitchen. Before bringing in the construction crew, the Heffleys attempt to do minor maintenance and repairs themselves—during which Greg fails at the work in various slapstick scenes. Once the professionals are brought in, the problems keep getting worse: angry neighbors, terrifying problems in walls, and—most serious—civil permitting issues that put the kibosh on what work’s been done. Left with only enough inheritance to patch and repair the exterior of the house—and with the school’s dismal standardized test scores as a final straw—Greg’s mom steers the family toward moving, opening up house-hunting and house-selling storylines (and devastating loyal Rowley, who doesn’t want to lose his best friend). While Greg’s positive about the move, he’s not completely uncaring about Rowley’s action. (And of course, Greg himself is not as unaffected as he wishes.) The gags include effectively placed callbacks to seemingly incidental events (the “stress lizard” brought in on testing day is particularly funny) and a lampoon of after-school-special–style problem books. Just when it seems that the Heffleys really will move, a new sequence of chaotic trouble and property destruction heralds a return to the status quo. Whew.

Readers can still rely on this series to bring laughs. (Graphic/fiction hybrid. 8-12)

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4197-3903-3

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Amulet/Abrams

Review Posted Online: Nov. 19, 2019

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This tale of self-acceptance and respect for one’s roots is breathtaking.

EYES THAT KISS IN THE CORNERS

A young Chinese American girl sees more than the shape of her eyes.

In this circular tale, the unnamed narrator observes that some peers have “eyes like sapphire lagoons / with lashes like lace trim on ballgowns,” but her eyes are different. She “has eyes that kiss in the corners and glow like warm tea.” Author Ho’s lyrical narrative goes on to reveal how the girl’s eyes are like those of other women and girls in her family, expounding on how each pair of eyes looks and what they convey. Mama’s “eyes sparkl[e] like starlight,” telling the narrator, “I’m a miracle. / In those moments when she’s all mine.” Mama’s eyes, the girl observes, take after Amah’s. While she notes that her grandmother’s eyes “don’t work like they used to,” they are able to see “all the way into my heart” and tell her stories. Here, illustrator Ho’s spreads bloom with references to Chinese stories and landscapes. Amah’s eyes are like those of the narrator’s little sister. Mei-Mei’s eyes are filled with hope and with admiration for her sister. Illustrator Ho’s textured cartoons and clever use of light and shadow exude warmth and whimsy that match the evocative text. When the narrator comes to describe her own eyes and acknowledges the power they hold, she is posed against swirling patterns, figures, and swaths of breathtaking landscapes from Chinese culture. (This book was reviewed digitally with 11-by-18-inch double-page spreads viewed at 80.5% of actual size.)

This tale of self-acceptance and respect for one’s roots is breathtaking. (Picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: Jan. 5, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-06-291562-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2020

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