A funny story, a reassuring message, and a clever, creative design; highly recommended.



As Grimes’ illustrated debut shows, it’s hard enough to be a kid, but when you’re the middle child in a family of nine, you might as well be invisible.

“Who forgets their kid?” Pidge grouses as she sits alone at a restaurant. “A family with too many kids, that’s who.” Mom rushes back in, apologetic, but the damage has been done. Back home and feeling neglected, Pidge decides to run away. She’ll slide down the laundry chute and sneak out the back door, she decides. But Pidge hadn’t counted on the quantity of laundry a large family produces: her exit is blocked by her brother’s football pads, and as she sits there trying to figure out what to do next, she’s bombarded by more sports equipment, a ballet tutu, a baby blanket, and more. For a while, Pidge almost enjoys her imprisonment—there’s a bag of candy someone accidentally threw down the chute and a book—but before long, she misses her family. In search of both physical and emotional warmth, she dresses herself in their laundry items. Finally, it’s the dog, Maverick, who sniffs her out, but it turns out that everyone has been looking for her—and every member of the family has felt her absence in a different way. “Without you in the middle,” says Mom, “we fall apart!” And Dad adds, “Being in the middle means there are people on all sides to love you.” The funny storyline, solid writing, and clever design of Grimes’ book help keep such statements from being just platitudes. Yes, there are exasperations that go along with having a big family—you don’t always get to choose when to be alone or together, and sometimes it’s hard to know whose stuff is whose—but in the end, Pidge seems to realize, these things are pleasures as much as they are pains. Both Grimes’ writing—much of it driven by Pidge’s internal dialogue—and DeOre’s cartoon illustrations are polished, spirited, and perfectly matched to the picture book’s audience. But it’s the creative typographical design that really makes the book stand out: the “thump thump thump” of Pidge stomping up the stairs is a jumble of boldfaced capital letters suggesting both the noise and the shape of the stairs themselves; the “swoosh plop darkness” that accompanies the tutu down the laundry chute has a balletic twirl and sibilance that puts the reader right there in the laundry chute, blindfolded by layers of tulle.

A funny story, a reassuring message, and a clever, creative design; highly recommended.

Pub Date: March 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-9908420-0-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Pidge Media, LLC

Review Posted Online: June 4, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2015

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Readers can still rely on this series to bring laughs.


From the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series , Vol. 14

The Heffley family’s house undergoes a disastrous attempt at home improvement.

When Great Aunt Reba dies, she leaves some money to the family. Greg’s mom calls a family meeting to determine what to do with their share, proposing home improvements and then overruling the family’s cartoonish wish lists and instead pushing for an addition to the kitchen. Before bringing in the construction crew, the Heffleys attempt to do minor maintenance and repairs themselves—during which Greg fails at the work in various slapstick scenes. Once the professionals are brought in, the problems keep getting worse: angry neighbors, terrifying problems in walls, and—most serious—civil permitting issues that put the kibosh on what work’s been done. Left with only enough inheritance to patch and repair the exterior of the house—and with the school’s dismal standardized test scores as a final straw—Greg’s mom steers the family toward moving, opening up house-hunting and house-selling storylines (and devastating loyal Rowley, who doesn’t want to lose his best friend). While Greg’s positive about the move, he’s not completely uncaring about Rowley’s action. (And of course, Greg himself is not as unaffected as he wishes.) The gags include effectively placed callbacks to seemingly incidental events (the “stress lizard” brought in on testing day is particularly funny) and a lampoon of after-school-special–style problem books. Just when it seems that the Heffleys really will move, a new sequence of chaotic trouble and property destruction heralds a return to the status quo. Whew.

Readers can still rely on this series to bring laughs. (Graphic/fiction hybrid. 8-12)

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4197-3903-3

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Amulet/Abrams

Review Posted Online: Nov. 19, 2019

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Sincere and wholehearted.


The NBA star offers a poem that encourages curiosity, integrity, compassion, courage, and self-forgiveness.

James makes his debut as a children’s author with a motivational poem touting life habits that children should strive for. In the first-person narration, he provides young readers with foundational self-esteem encouragement layered within basketball descriptions: “I promise to run full court and show up each time / to get right back up and let my magic shine.” While the verse is nothing particularly artful, it is heartfelt, and in her illustrations, Mata offers attention-grabbing illustrations of a diverse and enthusiastic group of children. Scenes vary, including classrooms hung with student artwork, an asphalt playground where kids jump double Dutch, and a gym populated with pint-sized basketball players, all clearly part of one bustling neighborhood. Her artistry brings black and brown joy to the forefront of each page. These children evince equal joy in learning and in play. One particularly touching double-page spread depicts two vignettes of a pair of black children, possibly siblings; in one, they cuddle comfortably together, and in the other, the older gives the younger a playful noogie. Adults will appreciate the closing checklist of promises, which emphasize active engagement with school. A closing note very generally introduces principles that underlie the Lebron James Family Foundation’s I Promise School (in Akron, Ohio). (This book was reviewed digitally with 10-by-20-inch double-page spreads viewed at 15% of actual size.)

Sincere and wholehearted. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 11, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-297106-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2020

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