A bright, lighthearted, and comforting book for children missing a faraway parent.


Xs and Os for Gabby Ann

In this illustrated children’s book, a little girl going to sleep waits for her father’s kisses and hugs to arrive from far away.

As in many families, little Gabby Ann’s father works very far away much of the time, but she knows that every night he will send her hugs and kisses. Friendly looking letters sing, “We’re Xs and Os, sent for the night. / We’re kisses and hugs, to help Gabby sleep tight.” Of course, her mother kisses her goodnight, too, but Gabby misses her daddy. One night, she has trouble sleeping, wondering when her father’s hugs and kisses will arrive. Her mother tells her that “The sooner you sleep, the faster they’ll get here.” As Gabby tries to sleep, her father’s X’s and O’s go on a long journey: dancing on the wind, meeting kind animals all over the world, and getting rides from some, including a monkey, giraffe, dolphin, and pelican. When Gabby pops up from bed to ask her mother why daddy’s kisses and hugs are taking so long, she’s reminded to have patience. Sure enough, the X’s and O’s eventually catch a ride with the family dog, who delivers them to Gabby, and she sleeps tight, secure in her father’s love. In her debut book, Özbay tells a sweet and simple story that makes good use of repetition to engage youngsters. The animals in their varied habitats are reassuringly ready to help, and Motz’s colorful, animated illustrations of happy-looking creatures also provide appeal. It’s a bit puzzling, though, that the hugs and kisses are presented as something to help Gabby sleep but will only ever arrive after she’s already fallen asleep—a parental trick that children may or may not see through. Another minor quibble: emus are included with African animals; they’re from Australia.

A bright, lighthearted, and comforting book for children missing a faraway parent.

Pub Date: May 5, 2015


Page Count: 32

Publisher: Mascot Books

Review Posted Online: May 11, 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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From the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series , Vol. 1

First volume of a planned three, this edited version of an ongoing online serial records a middle-school everykid’s triumphs and (more often) tribulations through the course of a school year. Largely through his own fault, mishaps seem to plague Greg at every turn, from the minor freak-outs of finding himself permanently seated in class between two pierced stoners and then being saddled with his mom for a substitute teacher, to being forced to wrestle in gym with a weird classmate who has invited him to view his “secret freckle.” Presented in a mix of legible “hand-lettered” text and lots of simple cartoon illustrations with the punch lines often in dialogue balloons, Greg’s escapades, unwavering self-interest and sardonic commentary are a hoot and a half—certain to elicit both gales of giggles and winces of sympathy (not to mention recognition) from young readers. (Fiction. 9-11)

Pub Date: April 1, 2007

ISBN: 0-8109-9313-9

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Amulet/Abrams

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2007

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