Funny, respectful, and cathartic—exhilarating.

Can a scream become a creature in its own right?

Barbara’s a cat who stands upright in yellow boots and a red dress. Today she has a deep frown and a very bad mood. “It had started in the morning because of a sock problem. And at lunchtime there had been a strange pea.” The sock problem: one sock halfway onto one hind paw, another on her tail, one each held by a front paw—all different colors. The strange pea is olive colored and off-puttingly larger than her regular green peas. Ice cream falling from her cone onto the ground is the last straw, and “Barbara thr[ows] a GREAT BIG… / WOBBLER!” Few United States readers will know this British slang for tantrum—which Shireen paints like a close-up single scream—and the unfamiliar word brings extra gloriousness to the Wobbler’s manifestation as a great, red, googly-eyed creature, “gloopy and heavy, like an angry jelly.” For a while, the Wobbler keeps Barbara unhappy, forbidding offers of sympathetic chats, cuddles, and replacement ice cream from pals Otto, Martha, and Small Bob. But then—“Stinky bumhead!” Barbara and the Wobbler call each other, transitioning into giggles before the Wobbler disappears with a pop. The art is brightly colored and, though at first appearing simple, brings a clever, complex depth of emotion and expression, from fury and powerlessness to humor, gentleness, and relief. A picture glossary of bad moods closes the book with humor and empathy.

Funny, respectful, and cathartic—exhilarating. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: June 1, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-68464-225-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Kane Miller

Review Posted Online: April 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2021



Renata’s wren encounter proves magical, one most children could only wish to experience outside of this lovely story.

A home-renovation project is interrupted by a family of wrens, allowing a young girl an up-close glimpse of nature.

Renata and her father enjoy working on upgrading their bathroom, installing a clawfoot bathtub, and cutting a space for a new window. One warm night, after Papi leaves the window space open, two wrens begin making a nest in the bathroom. Rather than seeing it as an unfortunate delay of their project, Renata and Papi decide to let the avian carpenters continue their work. Renata witnesses the birth of four chicks as their rosy eggs split open “like coats that are suddenly too small.” Renata finds at a crucial moment that she can help the chicks learn to fly, even with the bittersweet knowledge that it will only hasten their exits from her life. Rosen uses lively language and well-chosen details to move the story of the baby birds forward. The text suggests the strong bond built by this Afro-Latinx father and daughter with their ongoing project without needing to point it out explicitly, a light touch in a picture book full of delicate, well-drawn moments and precise wording. Garoche’s drawings are impressively detailed, from the nest’s many small bits to the developing first feathers on the chicks and the wall smudges and exposed wiring of the renovation. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10-by-20-inch double-page spreads viewed at actual size.)

Renata’s wren encounter proves magical, one most children could only wish to experience outside of this lovely story. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: March 16, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-12320-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Schwartz & Wade/Random

Review Posted Online: Jan. 12, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2021


A stocking stuffer par excellence, just right for dishing up with milk and cookies.

Pigeon finds something better to drive than some old bus.

This time it’s Santa delivering the fateful titular words, and with a “Ho. Ho. Whoa!” the badgering begins: “C’mon! Where’s your holiday spirit? It would be a Christmas MIRACLE! Don’t you want to be part of a Christmas miracle…?” Pigeon is determined: “I can do Santa stuff!” Like wrapping gifts (though the accompanying illustration shows a rather untidy present), delivering them (the image of Pigeon attempting to get an oversize sack down a chimney will have little ones giggling), and eating plenty of cookies. Alas, as Willems’ legion of young fans will gleefully predict, not even Pigeon’s by-now well-honed persuasive powers (“I CAN BE JOLLY!”) will budge the sleigh’s large and stinky reindeer guardian. “BAH. Also humbug.” In the typically minimalist art, the frustrated feathered one sports a floppily expressive green and red elf hat for this seasonal addition to the series—but then discards it at the end for, uh oh, a pair of bunny ears. What could Pigeon have in mind now? “Egg delivery, anyone?”

A stocking stuffer par excellence, just right for dishing up with milk and cookies. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2023

ISBN: 9781454952770

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Union Square Kids

Review Posted Online: Sept. 12, 2023

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