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Rare is the entertaining story that has equal appeal at Valentine’s Day and Halloween. Share with a slightly older audience...

Zombie couple Mildred and Mortimer find a live baby on their doorstep. Although happy to be parents, taking care of a new baby often scares them to death.

DiPucchio uses a deadpan tone to recount the couple’s stressful transition into parenthood. “Having a baby wasn’t what they expected. / Sonny was a fussy eater. His teeth were coming in instead of falling out.” The young boy keeps them up all day while sleeping through the night. No matter what they do, the baby seems happy—which completely troubles them. Campbell’s watercolor illustrations show gray-green scenes full of comic and faux-gory touches. Small, friendly worms cavort around the smiling baby, who plays with a train made of brains. Fretful that the baby is not well—he hardly ever cries!—Mildred and Mortimer take Sonny to a doctor, who pronounces the baby to be quite healthy. Finally, a growing Sonny tries to liberate himself from his crib and falls out. He erupts into tears and wails. His parents’ reaction? “ ‘Do you hear that, dear?’ Mortimer asked, beaming with pride. ‘It’s positively terrifying!’ ” Soon they are all smiling…and the final close-up shows all three with wide, gap-toothed grins.

Rare is the entertaining story that has equal appeal at Valentine’s Day and Halloween. Share with a slightly older audience who will fully appreciate the silly yet wonderfully gross details. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 6, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4424-5937-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: Sept. 13, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2014

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A retro-futuristic romp, literally and figuratively screwy.

Robo-parents Diode and Lugnut present daughter Cathode with a new little brother—who requires, unfortunately, some assembly.

Arriving in pieces from some mechanistic version of Ikea, little Flange turns out to be a cute but complicated tyke who immediately falls apart…and then rockets uncontrollably about the room after an overconfident uncle tinkers with his basic design. As a squad of helpline techies and bevies of neighbors bearing sludge cake and like treats roll in, the cluttered and increasingly crowded scene deteriorates into madcap chaos—until at last Cath, with help from Roomba-like robodog Sprocket, stages an intervention by whisking the hapless new arrival off to a backyard workshop for a proper assembly and software update. “You’re such a good big sister!” warbles her frazzled mom. Wiesner’s robots display his characteristic clean lines and even hues but endearingly look like vaguely anthropomorphic piles of random jet-engine parts and old vacuum cleaners loosely connected by joints of armored cable. They roll hither and thither through neatly squared-off panels and pages in infectiously comical dismay. Even the end’s domestic tranquility lasts only until Cathode spots the little box buried in the bigger one’s packing material: “TWINS!” (This book was reviewed digitally with 9-by-22-inch double-page spreads viewed at 52% of actual size.)

A retro-futuristic romp, literally and figuratively screwy. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-544-98731-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Clarion Books

Review Posted Online: June 2, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2020

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Cuándo quieras un perro feliz, look no further.

A young Latine boy finally gets to rescue the dog of his dreams, but training can be a challenge in two languages.

Like many children, José has been dreaming of having a pet of his own, specifically un perro, a dog. Like any good owner, José promptly begins training his new canine companion but soon realizes his rescue mutt, Feliz, knows only words in English. This is a problem because in José’s home everyone speaks both Spanish and English. José and Feliz must rise to the challenge; fortunately, treats and snuggles are great motivators. The narrative uses Spanish words and phrases throughout (“perros blancos,” “¡Yo quiero este!” “¡Sientate!”), usually with English context clues for understanding. This is complex vocabulary for an early reader, and the shifting in phonics from English to Spanish will be challenging for true beginners; the book is best suited for intermediate to advanced readers in dual-language classrooms or homes. Much like Feliz, however, it is sure to find a loving (and bilingual) home. Cheerful illustrations complement the text, helping readers make sense of the narrative. While José and his mother are darker-skinned, his father and sister are lighter-skinned. (This review has been updated for accuracy.)

Cuándo quieras un perro feliz, look no further. (glossary of Spanish-English words) (Early reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: April 25, 2023

ISBN: 978-0-593-52116-8

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Penguin Workshop

Review Posted Online: Jan. 11, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2023

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