Wears its agenda on its sleeve—but not heavily enough to tear the spandex.

AWESOME MAN

THE MYSTERY INTRUDER

There’s a newcomer in the Fortress of Awesome, and Awesome Man doesn’t (want to) like it one bit.

Having given their costumed legend-in-his-own-mind both anger issues to work through and a (poorly preserved) secret identity in The Astonishing Secret of Awesome Man (2011), Chabon and Parker truck in a new challenge. Rumors of a rival superhero coming to town (who could it be? Steel Tornado? Glue Girl?) pitch Awesome Man into a funk. At first it looks like his worst fears are realized. Losing his colorful costume and chiseled physique in the shiny, bright scenes to become a seemingly ordinary lad, he accompanies younger sib “Sister Sinister” into the house to meet…bald, ultratiny Captain Stinky. Awesome Man is unimpressed—until, that is, the interloper exhibits multiple superpowers, including an impressive scream and a green and mucky Slime Blast. “Maybe the new kid is going to be okay!” The parentally suggested prospect of being followed around by an adoring little brother confirms this attitude change (“I didn’t know I was getting a sidekick!”), and by the end, Captain Stinky has been transformed to Awesome Boy. The transition occurs with unlikely speed, but most young crime fighters and world savers with growing families of their own will both understand Awesome Man’s anxiety and agree that family changes are better embraced than fought.

Wears its agenda on its sleeve—but not heavily enough to tear the spandex. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 29, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-287509-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Quill Tree Books/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: June 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2020

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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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A sweet reminder to pause and ponder life’s everyday wonders.

TISHA AND THE BLOSSOMS

A young girl models mindfulness as she savors each moment.

This charming and vibrant picture book opens in Tisha’s backyard, where she is reaching skyward as falling blossoms float toward her. Her joy and anticipation are disrupted by a series of “hurry up” commands from those around her, who prod her to rush for the school bus, attend an assembly, and make sure that she doesn’t miss lunch. The externally imposed directions conflict with Tisha’s natural curiosity, which compels her not only to “listen to the sounds” and to count the spots on a ladybug she finds during recess, but also to create connections between a book she finds about space and the space shuttle she imagines but cannot finish drawing because “it’s time to put the crayons away.” When Tisha requests “a little slowdown,” she and Mommy decide to walk home and play “How Many?” along the way; they also snuggle on a park bench and name all the pigeons. What began as a harried day ends on an idyllic note with a family picnic under flowering trees; when the wind blows, Tisha can catch a blossom at last. Artful and striking illustrations produce a multitude of visual textures that delineate individual blooms, sketch Tisha’s neighborhood, render colorful yet subtle details of characters and clothing, and deliver painterly impressions. Tisha and her family are tan-skinned with dark hair; her classmates are diverse. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A sweet reminder to pause and ponder life’s everyday wonders. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: May 17, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-5362-2198-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: April 13, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2022

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