A clever conceit ably rendered; this is bound to prove popular with loving grandparents and caustic kids alike.

I WANNA GO HOME

A child’s skepticism takes a header when a vacation with Grandma and Grandpa proves more wild than mild.

After getting his iguana (I Wanna Iguana, 2004) and failing to successfully petition for his own space (I Wanna New Room, 2010), Alex returns for a third time, and now the situation’s truly dire. His parents are taking off for Bora Bora, which means he and his siblings are slated to stay with their grandparents for the duration. Broccoli lasagna and the absence of both video games and computers are bound to lead to a terrible time. In his initial, desperate letters and emails written to his vacationing parents, Alex pleads with them to return ASAP. Yet soon, Alex is singing a different tune, as he discovers square dancing, bingo, stickball and other wonderful aspects of old-folk living. Turns out that two weeks just isn’t enough time. The epistolary picture book is hardly a new genre, but it can prove a difficult one. Orloff handles the format as well as the subject with grace and aplomb. Alex’s gradual acceptance of his doting ancestors plays out believably, pairing beautifully with Catrow’s controlled craziness. The pencils, watercolors and inks find the funny in almost every single spread.

A clever conceit ably rendered; this is bound to prove popular with loving grandparents and caustic kids alike. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 25, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-399-25407-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: July 16, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2014

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Whimsy, intelligence, and a subtle narrative thread make this rise to the top of a growing list of self-love titles.

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YOU MATTER

Employing a cast of diverse children reminiscent of that depicted in Another (2019), Robinson shows that every living entity has value.

After opening endpapers that depict an aerial view of a busy playground, the perspective shifts to a black child, ponytails tied with beaded elastics, peering into a microscope. So begins an exercise in perspective. From those bits of green life under the lens readers move to “Those who swim with the tide / and those who don’t.” They observe a “pest”—a mosquito biting a dinosaur, a “really gassy” planet, and a dog whose walker—a child in a pink hijab—has lost hold of the leash. Periodically, the examples are validated with the titular refrain. Textured paint strokes and collage elements contrast with uncluttered backgrounds that move from white to black to white. The black pages in the middle portion foreground scenes in space, including a black astronaut viewing Earth; the astronaut is holding an image of another black youngster who appears on the next spread flying a toy rocket and looking lonely. There are many such visual connections, creating emotional interest and invitations for conversation. The story’s conclusion spins full circle, repeating opening sentences with new scenarios. From the microscopic to the cosmic, word and image illuminate the message without a whiff of didacticism.

Whimsy, intelligence, and a subtle narrative thread make this rise to the top of a growing list of self-love titles. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5344-2169-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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A cute, Halloween-y take on the old dare-to-be-you moral.

HARDLY HAUNTED

What could be worse for a house than to be haunted? Unless….

“There was a house on a hill, and that house was worried.” Overgrown with vines and frequented by a curious black cat, the abandoned abode fears that she will remain unoccupied because of her eerie countenance. Supplying the house with rounded, third-story windows and exterior molding that shift to express emotions, Sima takes readers through a tour of the house’s ominous interior. At first, the enchanted homestead tries to suppress her creaky walls, squeaky stairs, and rattling pipes. Despite all efforts to keep “VERY still. And VERY quiet. And VERY calm,” the house comes to find that being a rather creepy residence might actually be fun. The realization dawns on the decrepit dwelling with both relief and joy: “She liked being noisy. Maybe she liked being haunted.” Once the house embraces herself for who she is, the plot moves in a pleasant yet predictable direction: A cheerful family of ghosts loves the house in all her noisy glory and decides to move in. Sima’s lighthearted, cartoony style and cozy palette disarm the book of any frightening elements. The gentle, upbeat vibe makes it a fair choice to remind kids that their differences from others are the key to their belonging. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A cute, Halloween-y take on the old dare-to-be-you moral. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: July 20, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5344-4170-5

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2021

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