A gentle model for living while missing a loved one.

SOME DAYS

In this Argentine import, laundry day leads to comforting conversations about loss.

The story opens upon a mother and child sitting at a table, plates empty. The somber mood is supported with the white, cream, gray, and black palette. As the youngster describes a special passageway that sometimes appears in their yard, the mother hangs two tomato-red sheets on the clothesline. On the other side of the sheets, viewers see the child diving into the grass to “swim” toward the man (presumably a close relative) who’s mirroring the child’s actions on the other side of the gutter. In this fantasy world, “there’s no danger. / And nothing, nothing at all, can happen to you.” The man’s absence is not explained, but the probability that it is permanent is suggested when his porkpie hat appears on the protagonist’s head at the conclusion. In Schimel’s translation, Wernicke’s words are few but well chosen and expertly paced, the sentences split among the pages allowing for unhurried absorption of meaning. Her curved figures are solid, with cream-colored skin; straight, black hair; and short lines for eyes. No mouths are visible, a decision that adds to the contemplative aura. Subtle patterns add interest, and red—ultimately applied to the mother—signals warmth and love. Joining the quest for the passageway, she notes: “Although we may not always see it, / we can always go looking for it.”

A gentle model for living while missing a loved one. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5420-2251-4

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Amazon Crossing Kids

Review Posted Online: May 3, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2020

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THIS BOOK IS GRAY

A gray character tries to write an all-gray book.

The six primary and secondary colors are building a rainbow, each contributing the hue of their own body, and Gray feels forlorn and left out because rainbows contain no gray. So Gray—who, like the other characters, has a solid, triangular body, a doodle-style face, and stick limbs—sets off alone to create “the GRAYest book ever.” His book inside a book shows a peaceful gray cliff house near a gray sea with gentle whitecaps; his three gray characters—hippo, wolf, kitten—wait for their arc to begin. But then the primaries arrive and call the gray scene “dismal, bleak, and gloomy.” The secondaries show up too, and soon everyone’s overrunning Gray’s creation. When Gray refuses to let White and Black participate, astute readers will note the flaw: White and black (the colors) had already been included in the early all-gray spreads. Ironically, Gray’s book within a book displays calm, passable art while the metabook’s unsubtle illustrations and sloppy design make for cramped and crowded pages that are too busy to hold visual focus. The speech-bubble dialogue’s snappy enough (Blue calls people “dude,” and there are puns). A convoluted moral muddles the core artistic question—whether a whole book can be gray—and instead highlights a trite message about working together.

Low grade. (glossary) (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5420-4340-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Two Lions

Review Posted Online: July 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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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

Review Posted Online: June 3, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2020

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