Raise the roof for this picture book. It’s something special.

READ REVIEW

BUILDING OUR HOUSE

Bean sets aside the urban setting of his Boston Globe–Horn Book Award winner, At Night (2007), in this homage to his back-to-the-land parents, who built his childhood home in the 1970s.

Told from the perspective of Bean’s older sister, the story revels in the practical work of house-building, demystifying the stages of construction in a matter-of-fact, engaging tone. The oversized, portrait format echoes the height of the house the family builds, but front endpapers first show a vast, rural landscape in the foreground of which lies the “weedy field Dad and Mom bought from a farmer.” Frontmatter depicts them packing and leaving the city. Ensuing spreads detail how they live in a trailer on their new property while slowly building the house: setting the corners of the foundation; digging out the basement; gathering rocks and using them in the foundation; measuring, marking and cutting timber for the frame; and so on. The scene depicting a frame-raising party situates the little homesteading family in a loving community of relatives and friends who gather to help; then, right after they all move in, the family grows when both Mom and the pet cat have babies. Throughout, the watercolor-and-ink illustrations invite close examination for narrative details such as these while also providing ample visual information about construction.

Raise the roof for this picture book. It’s something special. (Picture book. 3-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 8, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-374-38023-6

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Nov. 18, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2012

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This celebration of cross-generational bonding is a textual and artistic tour de force.

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LAST STOP ON MARKET STREET

A young boy yearns for what he doesn’t have, but his nana teaches him to find beauty in what he has and can give, as well as in the city where they live.

CJ doesn’t want to wait in the rain or take the bus or go places after church. But through Nana’s playful imagination and gentle leadership, he begins to see each moment as an opportunity: Trees drink raindrops from straws; the bus breathes fire; and each person has a story to tell. On the bus, Nana inspires an impromptu concert, and CJ’s lifted into a daydream of colors and light, moon and magic. Later, when walking past broken streetlamps on the way to the soup kitchen, CJ notices a rainbow and thinks of his nana’s special gift to see “beautiful where he never even thought to look.” Through de la Peña’s brilliant text, readers can hear, feel and taste the city: its grit and beauty, its quiet moments of connectedness. Robinson’s exceptional artwork works with it to ensure that readers will fully understand CJ’s journey toward appreciation of the vibrant, fascinating fabric of the city. Loosely defined patterns and gestures offer an immediate and raw quality to the Sasek-like illustrations. Painted in a warm palette, this diverse urban neighborhood is imbued with interest and possibility.

This celebration of cross-generational bonding is a textual and artistic tour de force. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Jan. 8, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-399-25774-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: Oct. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2014

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A good choice for just those days when Mom and Dad do go away and leave their children in charge of Grandpa.

HOW TO BABYSIT A GRANDPA

From the How To... series

Reagan’s second outing is a tongue-in-cheek reversal of roles as a young boy instructs readers on how best to entertain and care for a grandpa while Mom and Dad are away.

First, he instructs them to hide when Grandpa rings the doorbell—resist the wiggles and giggles, and only pop out when he gives up. Then, reassure him that Mom and Dad will be back and distract him with a snack—heavy on the ice cream, cookies, ketchup and olives. Throughout the day, the narrator takes his grandpa for a walk, entertains him, plays with him, puts him down for a nap and encourages him to clean up before Mom and Dad’s return. Lists on almost every spread give readers a range of ideas for things to try, provided their grandfathers are not diabetic or arthritic, or have high blood pressure or a heart condition. These lists also provide Wildish with lots of fodder for his vignette illustrations. His digital artwork definitely focuses on the humor, with laugh-out-loud scenes and funny hidden details. And his characters’ expressive faces also help to fill in the grandfather-grandson relationship that Reagan's deadpan narrative leaves unstated.

A good choice for just those days when Mom and Dad do go away and leave their children in charge of Grandpa. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: April 10, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-375-86713-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Feb. 5, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2012

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