Story after story of silly surprises and sounds.



Apartment occupants crane their necks and wonder what’s making all the ruckus, while readers, conveyed up from floor to floor, get a voyeuristic view inside each apartment and see exactly what’s making all that noise.

A brown-skinned child with close-cropped, textured black hair, asleep in the dark, bolts upright with the first startling sounds, stands on the bed, and asks the ceiling, “What’s going LALALA above my head?” A close-up cross section of the building shows the child’s room as well as a partial view of the upstairs apartment from its occupant’s waist down. What would be “going LALALA” in orange-striped trousers and shoes with spats? A page turn reveals a flamboyant white opera singer belting out notes before a music stand, his wild hair a corona of corkscrews. Below his feet and floorboards, readers see the top portion of the child’s blue walls and the words, “A man is singing opera above my head.” Each successive upper floor thrums (“ma ma ma,” “BAA BAA BAA,” “HAW HAW HAW”), lobbing delicious opportunities to enunciate at readers. Such punchy phonetic words beg to be mouthed loudly with lips, tongue, and jaw. Zany illustrations perfectly evoke cheek-by-jowl apartment living’s intimacies, frustrations, and absurdity and continue to surprise with the antics happening one flight up. Variously patterned wallpapers exemplify the particular personalities of the building’s inhabitants, who vary in color, age, temperament—even species.

Story after story of silly surprises and sounds. (Picture book. 2-6)

Pub Date: March 7, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-59643-967-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Roaring Brook

Review Posted Online: Nov. 16, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2016

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More gift book than storybook, this is a meaningful addition to nursery bookshelves


A young child explores the unlimited potential inherent in all humans.

“Have you ever wondered why you are here?” asks the second-person narration. There is no one like you. Maybe you’re here to make a difference with your uniqueness; maybe you will speak for those who can’t or use your gifts to shine a light into the darkness. The no-frills, unrhymed narrative encourages readers to follow their hearts and tap into their limitless potential to be anything and do anything. The precisely inked and colored artwork plays with perspective from the first double-page spread, in which the child contemplates a mountain (or maybe an iceberg) in their hands. Later, they stand on a ladder to place white spots on tall, red mushrooms. The oversized flora and fauna seem to symbolize the presumptively insurmountable, reinforcing the book’s message that anything is possible. This quiet read, with its sophisticated central question, encourages children to reach for their untapped potential while reminding them it won’t be easy—they will make messes and mistakes—but the magic within can help overcome falls and failures. It’s unlikely that members of the intended audience have begun to wonder about their life’s purpose, but this life-affirming mood piece has honorable intentions. The child, accompanied by an adorable piglet and sporting overalls and a bird-beaked cap made of leaves, presents white.

More gift book than storybook, this is a meaningful addition to nursery bookshelves . (Picture book. 2-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-946873-75-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Compendium

Review Posted Online: May 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2019

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Pair this with Leo Timmers’ Who Is Driving? (2007) for twice the guessing fun.


From the Clothesline Clues series

Heling and Hembrook’s clever conceit challenges children to analyze a small town’s clotheslines to guess the job each of their owners does. 

Close-up on the clothesline: “Uniform and cap, / an invite for you. / Big bag of letters. / What job does she do?” A turn of the page reveals a macro view of the home, van and the woman doing her job, “She is a mail carrier.” Indeed, she can be spotted throughout the book delivering invitations to all the rest of the characters, who gather at the end for a “Launch Party.” The verses’ rhymes are spot-on, though the rhythm falters a couple of times. The authors nicely mix up the gender stereotypes often associated with several of these occupations, making the carpenter, firefighter and astronaut women. But while Davies keeps uniforms and props pretty neutral (he even avoids U.S. mail symbols), he keeps to the stereotypes that allow young readers to easily identify occupations—the farmer chews on a stalk of wheat; the beret-wearing artist sports a curly mustache. A subdued palette and plain white backgrounds keep kids’ focus on the clothing clues. Still, there are plenty of details to absorb—the cat with arched back that anticipates a spray of water, the firefighter who “lights” the rocket.

Pair this with Leo Timmers’ Who Is Driving? (2007) for twice the guessing fun. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: July 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-58089-251-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Charlesbridge

Review Posted Online: May 16, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2012

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