A good reminder to keep distraction at bay.

THE BIZZIES

Mrs. Bizzie and Mr. Bizzie work as a detective and nature photographer, respectively, starting from early in the morning, weekends included.

Their kids, Bianca and Barnaby, have inherited the parents’ active lives, Bianca taking care of the family pets while Barnaby cooks. The family mystery is that items keep coming up missing, until one day Bianca’s beloved Chucky the Chick runs away. Thus backfires the kids’ plot to seek more attention from their distracted parents, and the Bizzies must come together to find Chucky and to address the elephant-sized problem in the room. The problem is mostly glossed over from there on; Mr. and Mrs. Bizzie somehow find a way to come home earlier from their work and spend weekends with Bianca and Barnaby, but readers don’t learn how they achieve that work-life balance. For many families, simply freeing up additional time isn’t an option. Nevertheless, bringing it up will make some young readers and their grown-up caregivers feel seen, and throughout the text, translated from Spanish, Merlán gives distinct, memorable details to each character. Mrs. Bizzie isn’t just a detective, she’s an investigator who hides a magnifying glass, sunglasses, and comb in her large hair. In illustrations as busy as the Bizzie family, Millán crams in details of the home throughout that reflect the interests of four highly creative individuals (all white).

A good reminder to keep distraction at bay. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-84-16733-62-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Cuento de Luz

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

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Comfy and cozy, with nary a meanie in sight.

GRANDUDE'S GREEN SUBMARINE

Following Hey, Grandude (2019), more jolly fun as the title character squires his four young “Chillers” aboard a green sub (where does Sir Paul get his ideas?) to catch up with his partner in adventure: Nandude!

Casting about for something to do on a sweltering day, the multiracial quartet eagerly follows their grizzled White gramps down to an underground chamber where a viridian vessel awaits to take them soaring through the sky to a distant land. There, Grandude’s old friend Ravi plays a tune of Nandude’s that accompanies them after they leave him. It leads them under the sea to an octopus’s garden and a briefly scary tangle with the ink-spraying giant. The monster’s set to dancing, though, as Nandude floats up in her own accordion-shaped ship to carry everyone home for tea, biscuits, and bed in a swirl of notes. Aside maybe from the odd spray of shiny stars here and there, Durst steers clear of sight gags and direct visual references to the film or music in her cheery cartoon scenes. Both she and the text do kit Ravi out, appropriately, with a sitar, but there’s no 1960s-style psychedelia to be seen. Nostalgic adults may be disappointed to see that even the submarine bears no resemblance to the iconic vessel of the film but instead just looks like a plush, smiling toy whale, eyes and all. Children, of course, won’t care. That this book does not try to trade (heavily) on its antecedents makes it a refreshing change from so many other celebrity titles. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Comfy and cozy, with nary a meanie in sight. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 5, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-37243-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2021

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The dynamic interaction between the characters invites readers to take risks, push boundaries, and have a little unscripted...

CLAYMATES

Reinvention is the name of the game for two blobs of clay.

A blue-eyed gray blob and a brown-eyed brown blob sit side by side, unsure as to what’s going to happen next. The gray anticipates an adventure, while the brown appears apprehensive. A pair of hands descends, and soon, amid a flurry of squishing and prodding and poking and sculpting, a handsome gray wolf and a stately brown owl emerge. The hands disappear, leaving the friends to their own devices. The owl is pleased, but the wolf convinces it that the best is yet to come. An ear pulled here and an extra eye placed there, and before you can shake a carving stick, a spurt of frenetic self-exploration—expressed as a tangled black scribble—reveals a succession of smug hybrid beasts. After all, the opportunity to become a “pig-e-phant” doesn’t come around every day. But the sound of approaching footsteps panics the pair of Picassos. How are they going to “fix [them]selves” on time? Soon a hippopotamus and peacock are staring bug-eyed at a returning pair of astonished hands. The creative naiveté of the “clay mates” is perfectly captured by Petty’s feisty, spot-on dialogue: “This was your idea…and it was a BAD one.” Eldridge’s endearing sculpted images are photographed against the stark white background of an artist’s work table to great effect.

The dynamic interaction between the characters invites readers to take risks, push boundaries, and have a little unscripted fun of their own . (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: June 20, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-316-30311-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2017

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