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HOME FOR A WHILE

Gentle and wise—especially as a read for foster parents.

A child in foster care benefits from his foster mother’s patience and care.

Calvin (who presents as White with light skin and curly brown hair) has his guard up when he arrives at the home of his new foster mother, Maggie (who appears in the illustrations as a woman of color with brown skin and even curlier, darker hair). The narration doesn’t provide a backstory to explain how and why he came to Maggie’s home, but it does identify it as “another house,” which suggests this isn’t his first foster placement. Calvin doesn’t want to unpack, and he feels both unwanted and anxious about starting at a new school. Maggie wisely gives him space and respects his rejection of hugs. She also responds patiently when Calvin acts out destructively, redirecting his behavior and modeling calming breathing techniques. In time, Calvin accepts Maggie’s affection and seems to internalize her affirming statements. Ultimately, the book is as much a model for foster parents as it is a story to provide validation of foster children’s experiences, though Calvin’s final statements that Maggie is “like a mama bear” and “like no one I’ve ever met” (this latter phrase echoing Maggie’s oft-repeated affirmation of Calvin’s specialness) may come across as somehow denigrating his Mama, who is depicted lovingly on earlier pages. Maggie and Calvin’s dialogue is color-coded, purple for Maggie and red for Calvin, with narrative text in black. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10-by-16-inch double-page spreads viewed at 16.3% of actual size.)

Gentle and wise—especially as a read for foster parents. (Picture book. 3-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-4338-3187-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Magination/American Psychological Association

Review Posted Online: Dec. 14, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2021

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CARPENTER'S HELPER

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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HOW TO CATCH A MAMASAURUS

From the How To Catch… series

A syrupy tribute to mothers that may please fans of the series.

Another creature is on the loose.

The long-running series continues its successful formula with this Hallmark card of a book, which features bright illustrations and catchy rhymes. This time, the mythical creature the racially diverse children set out to catch is an absent mom who does it all (lists of descriptors include the words banker, caregiver, nurse, doctor, driver, chef, housekeeper, teacher, entertainer, playmate, laundry service, problem solver, handywoman, cleaner, and alarm clock) but doesn’t seem to have a job outside the home and is inexplicably a dinosaur. As the children prepare gifts and a meal for her, the text becomes an ode to the skills the Mamasaurus possesses (“Day or night she’s always there. / She meets every wish and need”) and values she instills (“Sometimes life can mean hard work,” “kindness matters,” and “what counts is doing your best”). This well-intentioned selection veers into cliche generously sprinkled with saccharine but manages to redeem itself with its appreciation for mothers and all that they may do. Endpapers include a “to” and “from” page framed in a heart, as well as a page where young gift givers or recipients can draw a picture of their Mamasaurus.

A syrupy tribute to mothers that may please fans of the series. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: March 5, 2024

ISBN: 9781728274300

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Sourcebooks Wonderland

Review Posted Online: Dec. 6, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2024

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