A satisfying spin on the trading-places trope.

It’s the getaway that’s everything Fritz and Tabitha want and need…until it isn’t.

Tabitha, an orange cat from the suburbs, and Fritz, an elephant with a yen for travel, meet on the website Lair-bnb. Tabitha needs to get out of her little brick house—and away from Claudia, her little human, who’s a bit aggressive with the makeovers. Fritz has had enough of the herd for a while. Fritz loves the “watering hole” (a swimming pool) that Claudia takes him to after his long flight. Tabitha’s overjoyed to find some “family in the area” (a pair of cheetahs). (Throughout, readers are treated to Stansfield’s visual representations of the animals’ misconceptions.) But soon the excitement of the swap wears off. Fritz nearly cracks a tusk on a giant fake doughnut outside a bakery, and Tabitha’s mouse pizza horrifies Fritz’s herd. After a disaster when Fritz mistakes Claudia’s birthday party for his and a painful run-in with a hippo for Tabitha, both think an early swap back is a good idea—but their thank-you gifts to each other indicate warm feelings on both sides. Frawley’s tongue-in-cheek tale is told entirely in Lair-bnb messages between the two vacationers as each describes their trip to their counterpart. Starting with the endpapers, Stansfield’s bright cartoons offer plenty of little background giggles as well as plenty of foreground laughs.

A satisfying spin on the trading-places trope. (Picture book. 2-7)

Pub Date: Jan. 19, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5420-0854-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Two Lions

Review Posted Online: Sept. 28, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2020



A stocking stuffer par excellence, just right for dishing up with milk and cookies.

Pigeon finds something better to drive than some old bus.

This time it’s Santa delivering the fateful titular words, and with a “Ho. Ho. Whoa!” the badgering begins: “C’mon! Where’s your holiday spirit? It would be a Christmas MIRACLE! Don’t you want to be part of a Christmas miracle…?” Pigeon is determined: “I can do Santa stuff!” Like wrapping gifts (though the accompanying illustration shows a rather untidy present), delivering them (the image of Pigeon attempting to get an oversize sack down a chimney will have little ones giggling), and eating plenty of cookies. Alas, as Willems’ legion of young fans will gleefully predict, not even Pigeon’s by-now well-honed persuasive powers (“I CAN BE JOLLY!”) will budge the sleigh’s large and stinky reindeer guardian. “BAH. Also humbug.” In the typically minimalist art, the frustrated feathered one sports a floppily expressive green and red elf hat for this seasonal addition to the series—but then discards it at the end for, uh oh, a pair of bunny ears. What could Pigeon have in mind now? “Egg delivery, anyone?”

A stocking stuffer par excellence, just right for dishing up with milk and cookies. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2023

ISBN: 9781454952770

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Union Square Kids

Review Posted Online: Sept. 12, 2023


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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