Like the story’s heroine, transitioning readers may feel they are taking a step up to big-kid literature. Just so.

FIRE PIE TROUT

A fishing trip with Gramps helps a little girl feel grown-up.

Very early in the morning, Grace and her Gramps pack all their worms and tackle as well as their favorite lunch—fire pie!—and set off through the fog to their favorite fishing spot. The excited Grace actually rolls down the hill to get to the riverbank. She watches Grampie put a worm on his hook, but taking pity on the creature, she “set[s] the wiggler free” and decides to try an empty hook. Gramps catches two big trout as Grace’s line sits undisturbed in the water. She pulls another worm out of her jar but just can’t bring herself to hook it. Maybe she’s too young to go fishing. Then she gets an idea. She breaks off a bit of crust from her fire pie which, for the first time, readers see is leftover pizza. Almost immediately, Grace finds herself in a big tug of war with a speckled trout, and she wins! Joyfully, Grace realizes that she’s not too young for fishing. And Grampie couldn’t be more proud of her. The handsomely designed book has substantial text and nicely composed illustrations. Though it is not an early reader, simple vocabulary, repetition and uncomplicated sentence structure make it a good choice for beginning readers.

Like the story’s heroine, transitioning readers may feel they are taking a step up to big-kid literature. Just so. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-927083-18-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Fifth House

Review Posted Online: July 16, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2014

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Well-meaning and with a lovely presentation, this sentimental effort may be aimed more at adults than kids.

MY LITTLE BRAVE GIRL

Little girls are given encouragement and assurance so they can meet the challenges of life as they move through the big, wide world.

Delicately soft watercolor-style art depicts naturalistic scenes with a diverse quintet of little girls portraying potential situations they will encounter, as noted by a narrative heavily dependent on a series of clichés. “The stars are high, and you can reach them,” it promises as three of the girls chase fireflies under a star-filled night sky. “Oceans run deep, and you will learn to swim,” it intones as one girl treads water and another leans over the edge of a boat to observe life on the ocean floor. “Your feet will take many steps, my brave little girl. / Let your heart lead the way.” Girls gingerly step across a brook before making their way through a meadow. The point of all these nebulous metaphors seems to be to inculcate in girls the independence, strength, and confidence they’ll need to succeed in their pursuits. Trying new things, such as foods, is a “delicious new adventure.” Though the quiet, gentle text is filled with uplifting words that parents will intuitively relate to or comprehend, the esoteric messages may be a bit sentimental and ambiguous for kids to understand or even connect to. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10.5-by-19-inch double-page spreads viewed at 50% of actual size.)

Well-meaning and with a lovely presentation, this sentimental effort may be aimed more at adults than kids. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: March 23, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-30072-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Jan. 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 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

Review Posted Online: June 3, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2020

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