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

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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A memorable story of kindness, courage and wonder.

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WONDER

After being home-schooled for years, Auggie Pullman is about to start fifth grade, but he’s worried: How will he fit into middle school life when he looks so different from everyone else?

Auggie has had 27 surgeries to correct facial anomalies he was born with, but he still has a face that has earned him such cruel nicknames as Freak, Freddy Krueger, Gross-out and Lizard face. Though “his features look like they’ve been melted, like the drippings on a candle” and he’s used to people averting their eyes when they see him, he’s an engaging boy who feels pretty ordinary inside. He’s smart, funny, kind and brave, but his father says that having Auggie attend Beecher Prep would be like sending “a lamb to the slaughter.” Palacio divides the novel into eight parts, interspersing Auggie’s first-person narrative with the voices of family members and classmates, wisely expanding the story beyond Auggie’s viewpoint and demonstrating that Auggie’s arrival at school doesn’t test only him, it affects everyone in the community. Auggie may be finding his place in the world, but that world must find a way to make room for him, too.

A memorable story of kindness, courage and wonder. (Fiction. 8-14)

Pub Date: Feb. 14, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-375-86902-0

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Dec. 3, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2011

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