Affection that is as comfortable as Grumpy’s old cardigan



From the Charlie & Mouse series

Grumpy is coming for a stay, and nothing gets better than that for two little siblings.

Grumpy is gramps, and there isn’t a grumpy bone in this old man’s body. Indeed, Grumpy is the master of dry drollery. Grumpy has come to visit Charlie and Mouse, biracial children with a white mom and an Asian dad. Their paternal grandfather, Grumpy, is a champ because he engages the kids on their turf. “You are getting big!” notes Grumpy, in this four-interlude early reader, conveyed in words that don’t fill the mouth too full and are caught in a nice syncopation. Charlie is “getting so big,” but Mouse shakes his head. “I am not getting big.” Grumpy tells him, “You are bigger than you were. You are not getting small.” After some prompting and thinking, Mouse declares, “I am getting medium.” Medium needs a little help but not a lot of help, like for swimming or reading. As for hot dogs, big likes mustard, medium not so much. (Grumpy concedes he’s medium when it comes to hot dogs.) So it goes for pouncing on sleepers and building a fort and eating pizza and lullabies. (Like mustard, singing isn’t a Grumpy thing; Charlie takes the chore.) The only slip is in the last chapter, which gets a tad mistily metaphorical and sugarcoated for the rest of the sparkling work.

Affection that is as comfortable as Grumpy’s old cardigan . (Early reader. 6-9)

Pub Date: Oct. 3, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4521-3748-3

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Chronicle

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2017

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Patchy work, both visually and teleologically.


The sultana of high-fructose sentimentality reminds readers that they really are all that.

Despite the title, we’re actually here for a couple of reasons. In fulsome if vague language Tillman embeds one message, that acts of kindness “may triple for days… / or set things in motion in different ways,” in a conceptually separate proposition that she summarizes thus: “perhaps you forgot— / a piece of the world that is precious and dear / would surely be missing if you weren’t here.” Her illustrations elaborate on both themes in equally abstract terms: a lad releases a red kite that ends up a sled for fox kits, while its ribbons add decorative touches to bird nests and a moose before finally being vigorously twirled by a girl and (startlingly) a pair of rearing tigers. Without transition the focus then shifts as the kite is abruptly replaced by a red ball. Both embodied metaphors, plus children and animals, gather at the end for a closing circle dance. The illustrator lavishes attention throughout on figures of children and wild animals, which are depicted with such microscopically precise realism that every fine hair and feather is visible, but she then floats them slightly above hazy, generic backdrops. The overall design likewise has a slapdash feel, as some spreads look relatively crowded with verses while others bear only a single line or phrase.

Patchy work, both visually and teleologically. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-250-05626-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Review Posted Online: June 23, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2015

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Charming, funny and true to life.


From the Dory Fantasmagory series , Vol. 1

With words, pictures and pictures with words, 6-year-old Dory, called Rascal, recounts how she finally gets her older brother and sister to play with her.

Rascal’s siblings complain that she’s always pestering them. She acts like a baby, she asks weird questions, and she chatters endlessly with her imaginary monster friend. So they tell her a kidnapping witch, Mrs. Gobble Gracker, is looking for her. In her efforts to avoid capture, Rascal becomes a dog. As a “dog,” she’s invisible to the little-girl–stealer but appealing to her older brother, who, it turns out, always wanted to have a dog. She maintains her dogginess all the way through a doctor’s checkup until a surprise vaccination spurs her to speech and retaliation. Rascal and her invented fairy godmother, Mr. Nuggy (he doesn’t look much like a fairy godmother), use the ensuing timeout to concoct poison soup for the witch. Eventually, the witch is vanquished and order more or less restored. Redeemed in the eyes of her siblings because she’s brave enough to retrieve a bouncy ball from the toilet as well as wildly imaginative, Rascal finally gets her wish. Often just on the edge of out of control, this inventive child is irresistible and her voice, convincing. Childlike drawings, often embellished with hand-lettered narrative or speech bubbles, of round-headed humans, Sendak-ian monsters and a snaggle-toothed witch add to the humor.

Charming, funny and true to life. (Fiction. 6-9)

Pub Date: Oct. 9, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-8037-4088-4

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Dial

Review Posted Online: Aug. 6, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2014

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