Good, quick-moving fun. Kids may marvel that communication existed before the telephone and Internet.

JACKRABBIT MCCABE AND THE ELECTRIC TELEGRAPH

This original tall tale is literally up to speed.

Jackrabbit McCabe is the fastest man in Windy Flats, a mid-19th-century town. With legs that are preternaturally long, Jackrabbit races everything, human, animal, and mechanical—and wins every time. His neighbors rely on him to deliver messages with lightning speed. Then fate, in the guise of a new invention called the telegraph, rushes in. Everyone in Windy Flats scoffs at the idea that “any newfangled contraption” is faster than their man, and he eagerly takes up the challenge to “race” against it. For kids it won’t be a foregone conclusion that the electrical device proves faster than any pair of human legs, yet for the first time, Jackrabbit must admit defeat. Happily, a logical ending is in store: our speedy hero models good sportsmanship by accepting loss gracefully, and he eagerly becomes the town’s telegraph operator and newspaper deliverer. Naturally, he fulfills his duties remarkably quickly. Readers will find that the story, written in folksy terms and rhythms, clips along at a fast pace, too, and the fittingly retro illustrations are filled with action, energy, and good humor. Occasional changes in typeface and size add to the excitement of the telling. The backmatter includes a helpful historical author’s note, a Morse code key, and a riddle in Morse code for readers to solve.

Good, quick-moving fun. Kids may marvel that communication existed before the telephone and Internet. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 8, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-37843-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Schwartz & Wade/Random

Review Posted Online: June 10, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2015

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A quiet, thought-provoking story of environmental change and the power humans have to slow it.

THE OLD BOAT

A multigenerational tale of a boat’s life with a Black family, written by two brothers who loved similar boats.

In the opening spread, a smiling, brown-skinned adult dangles a line from the back of a green-and-white boat while a boy peers eagerly over the side at the sea life. The text never describes years passing, but each page turn reveals the boy’s aging, more urban development on the shore, increasing water pollution, marine-life changes (sea jellies abound on one page), and shifting water levels. Eventually, the boy, now a teenager, steers the boat, and as an adult, he fishes alone but must go farther and farther out to sea to make his catch. One day, the man loses his way, capsizes in a storm, and washes up on a small bay island, with the overturned, sunken boat just offshore. Now a “new sailor” cleans up the land and water with others’ help. The physical similarities between the shipwrecked sailor and the “new sailor” suggest that this is not a new person but one whose near-death experience has led to an epiphany that changes his relationship to water. As the decaying boat becomes a new marine habitat, the sailor teaches the next generation (a child with hair in two Afro puffs) to fish. Focusing primarily on the sea, the book’s earth-toned illustrations, created with hundreds of stamps, carry the compelling plot.

A quiet, thought-provoking story of environmental change and the power humans have to slow it. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-324-00517-9

Page Count: 56

Publisher: Norton Young Readers

Review Posted Online: Dec. 25, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2021

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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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