Typographically overdesigned but engaging as a low-key celebration of both intergenerational bonds and the rewards of quiet...



Keeping flies and other distractions away from Grandpa while he snoozes in the backyard isn’t an easy job…but young Gilbert is determined to see it through.

Taking his beloved grandpa’s possibly joking request seriously, Gilbert spends a long Sunday afternoon hovering near the hammock. This gives him plenty of time to think about Grandma Sarah, who died; about the T-shirts his grandparents brought back from Florida for him, his two brothers, and cousins Robby and Barry (but not, apparently, cousins Carol or Deanna); about clouds; about bugs; about how he’ll be in kindergarten in three months when his new little sister comes. Shrugging off the impulse to follow a passing cat and other temptations, Gilbert hangs on alertly until, at last, his dad comes home from work, Grandpa wakes up, and everyone gathers in the kitchen for watermelon—where his vigil becomes a family story, to be told and retold. Printed, for no evident reason, in numerous colors, the narrative is scattered in short blocks around painted illustrations that set the episode in a suburban neighborhood of shaggy lawns, no sidewalks, and small frame houses. Gilbert and his grandpa are identically bullet-headed, heavyset, and, like the rest of their extended family, pink of complexion.

Typographically overdesigned but engaging as a low-key celebration of both intergenerational bonds and the rewards of quiet rumination. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: April 16, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-57687-909-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: POW!

Review Posted Online: Jan. 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2019

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Patchy work, both visually and teleologically.


The sultana of high-fructose sentimentality reminds readers that they really are all that.

Despite the title, we’re actually here for a couple of reasons. In fulsome if vague language Tillman embeds one message, that acts of kindness “may triple for days… / or set things in motion in different ways,” in a conceptually separate proposition that she summarizes thus: “perhaps you forgot— / a piece of the world that is precious and dear / would surely be missing if you weren’t here.” Her illustrations elaborate on both themes in equally abstract terms: a lad releases a red kite that ends up a sled for fox kits, while its ribbons add decorative touches to bird nests and a moose before finally being vigorously twirled by a girl and (startlingly) a pair of rearing tigers. Without transition the focus then shifts as the kite is abruptly replaced by a red ball. Both embodied metaphors, plus children and animals, gather at the end for a closing circle dance. The illustrator lavishes attention throughout on figures of children and wild animals, which are depicted with such microscopically precise realism that every fine hair and feather is visible, but she then floats them slightly above hazy, generic backdrops. The overall design likewise has a slapdash feel, as some spreads look relatively crowded with verses while others bear only a single line or phrase.

Patchy work, both visually and teleologically. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-250-05626-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Review Posted Online: June 23, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2015

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From the Égalité series

A timely look at self-expression.

Kindergarten-age Ben paints his fingernails because he loves their colorful appeal. Unfortunately, not everyone does. While walking to school one morning, Ben is harassed by two other boys: “Painting your nails is for girls. You’re a girl! You’re a girl!” Ben initially internalizes the negative feelings but eventually tells his parents. Although Ben’s father shows solidarity by painting his nails as well, this does not stop the bullying. Ben sadly kowtows to gender conformity and paints his nails only on the weekend, although his father continues to pick him up after school with painted nails. On Ben’s birthday, his entire class surprises him with painted nails, and at recess, they do it again. End of story! Educators and caregivers should prepare themselves for the barrage of logical questions that are sure to follow: Why didn’t Ben’s parents talk to his teacher about the bullying? What happened the next day? Did the bullies learn anything? Books about gender nonconformity are needed, as are titles that celebrate general messages of acceptance, but this story is too superficial and the ending too slapdash to be worth the attention. Gusti’s illustrations, which echo the stylings of Jules Pfeiffer, do little to enhance the text. Most characters appear white, while darker-skinned characters are reduced to background filler only. The book is also available in Spanish.

Skip it. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: April 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-84-17123-59-8

Page Count: 36

Publisher: nubeOCHO

Review Posted Online: Jan. 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2019

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