This book could have used a little trimming, but it’s clever enough to make kids curious about their own given names.

MY NAME IS AVIVA

The mean kids at Aviva’s school are cleverer than the mean kids in most neighborhoods.

When students at Aviva’s school want to make fun of her name, they call her “Amoeba” and “Viva La France.” This requires a certain level of sophistication. (A really cruel kid might have called her “Bieber,” but then the book would be instantly out of date.) Aviva is ready to change her name to Emily until her parents tell her why they chose that particular name. Even the youngest Jewish readers will probably guess the secret the moment Aviva’s parents start talking about her great-grandmother Ada, an immigrant from Russia who “studied the English newspaper every night to learn her ABC’s” and sewed stitches “as fine as spider webs.” Stories about Ada run throughout the book—arguably, at least one story too many. The parents are reminded of a story every time they do something she did: sew on a button or pick up a book. The device is contrived and repetitive, but the stories are often moving and do lead finally to the information that Ada’s Hebrew name was Aviva. And Jatkowska’s illustrations are charming. They look like patchwork dolls, pieced together from items found around the house.

This book could have used a little trimming, but it’s clever enough to make kids curious about their own given names. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4677-2654-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Kar-Ben

Review Posted Online: June 29, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2015

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A retro-futuristic romp, literally and figuratively screwy.

ROBOBABY

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 3, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2020

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Heartfelt content for children who need to feel seen.

BEING YOU

Words addressed to children aimed at truth-telling, encouraging, and inspiring are accompanied by pictures of children of color going about their days.

“This story is about you,” the narrator opens, as a black boy looks up toward readers, a listening expression on his face. A multiracial group of children romp in a playground to encouraging words: “you are… / a dancer / a singer / in charge of the game.” Then comes a warning about the “whispers” out in the world that “tell you who you are / But only you and love decide.” There is advice about what to do when you “think there is nowhere safe”: “Watch a bird soar / and think, / Me too.” It asks readers to wonder: “If there was a sign on your chest / what would it say?” Children argue and show frustration and anger for reasons unclear to readers, then they hold up signs about themselves, such as “I am powerful” and “I am talented.” A girl looks hurt, and a boy looks “tough” until someone finds them “sitting there wondering / when the sky will blue.” While the words are general, the pictures specify a teacher, who is brown-skinned with straight black hair, as one who “can see you.” While young readers may find the wording unusual, even obscure in places, the nurturing message will not be lost.

Heartfelt content for children who need to feel seen. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-68446-021-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Capstone Young Readers

Review Posted Online: Aug. 14, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2018

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