Though open adoptions have become more common, they are still not the majority; this is more a single family’s adoption...




A birth mother searches for the right parents for her unborn child in this story narrated by the adoptive mother.

“She looked north. She looked south. She traveled the world, / asking, ‘Who’ll be the parents of this beautiful girl? / I will sail by the moon and the stars till I find / a home for my girl that is loving and kind, / with a soft, cushioned bed and a teddy named Boo. // Nothing less than the best for Wonderful You.’ ” In a house by the sea, a loving couple awaits, but the birth mother must make sure they are just right. (The artwork here is slightly disturbing: the adoptive mother stretches out her arms toward the birth mother, who is riding on a crescent moon and hugging her pregnant belly; her expression looks shocked, almost as if her babe is being taken away.) After entrusting the baby to the adoptive parents, the birth mother rides a bird back home, and the tale turns to the new family and all that the future holds. The verses border on saccharine, and the rhyme scheme governs both word choice and syntax, making the text a challenge to read aloud. The artwork matches the flights of fancy with watercolor swirls and blotches, but the faces (all pale-skinned) are off-putting, not sweet or loving.

Though open adoptions have become more common, they are still not the majority; this is more a single family’s adoption story than one that speaks to all adopted children. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: April 25, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-553-51001-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: March 20, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2017

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Readers will agree: All differences should be hugged, er, embraced.


Watch out, Hug Machine (Scott Campbell, 2014), there’s another long-limbed lover of squeezes in the mix.

Bernard, a tiny, lavender bird, dejectedly sits atop a high branch. His wings droop all the way to the ground. Heaving a sigh, his disappointment is palpable. With insufferably long wings, he has never been able to fly. All of his friends easily took to the skies, leaving him behind. There is nothing left to do but sit in his tree and feel sorry for himself. Adamson amusingly shows readers the passage of time with a sequence of vignettes of Bernard sitting in the rain, the dark, and amid a cloud of paper wasps—never moving from his branch. Then one day he hears a sob and finds a tearful orangutan. Without even thinking, Bernard wraps his long wings around the great ape. The orangutan is comforted! Bernard has finally found the best use of his wings. In gentle watercolor and pencil sketches, Adamson slips in many moments of humor. Animals come from all over to tell Bernard their troubles (a lion muses that it is “lonely at the top of the food chain” while a bat worries about missing out on fun during the day). Three vertical spreads that necessitate a 90-degree rotation add to the fun.

Readers will agree: All differences should be hugged, er, embraced. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5420-9271-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Two Lions

Review Posted Online: Sept. 29, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2019

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Aims high but falls flat.


Through 20 short poems, Maestro Mouse invites readers to meet a series of animals who have lessons to impart and a symphony to perform.

Brown, author of The DaVinci Code (2003) and other wildly popular titles for adults, here offers young listeners a poetry collection accompanied by music: a “symphony” performed, for readers equipped with an audio device and an internet connection, by the Zagreb Festival Orchestra. From the introduction of the conductor and the opening “Woodbird Welcome” to the closing “Cricket Lullaby,” the writer/composer uses poems made of three to eight rhyming couplets, each line with four strong beats, to introduce the animals who will be revealed in the final double gatefold as the players in an all-animal orchestra. Each poem also contains a lesson, reinforced by a short message (often on a banner or signpost). Thus, “When life trips them up a bit, / Cats just make the best of it” concludes the poem “Clumsy Kittens,” which is encapsulated by “Falling down is part of life. The best thing to do is get back on your feet!” The individual songs and poems may appeal to the intended audience, but collectively they don’t have enough variety to be read aloud straight through. Nor does the gathering of the orchestra provide a narrative arc. Batori’s cartoon illustrations are whimsically engaging, however. They include puzzles: hard-to-find letters that are said to form anagrams of instrument names and a bee who turns up somewhere in every scene.

Aims high but falls flat. (Complete composition not available for review.) (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-12384-3

Page Count: 44

Publisher: Rodale Kids

Review Posted Online: May 3, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2020

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