A sweet demonstration that a change in perspective can work wonders.

I AM SMALL

What child hasn’t felt too small on occasion? Here, Mimi is smaller than everyone in her family (including the dog) as well as everyone in her class.

Mimi’s tale starts as one of woe, a litany of drawbacks to being petite: not being noticed in crowds, not being able to touch the floor while seated on the school bus, not being able to see desserts at the bakery, and so on. But there are two sides to every coin, and Mimi’s friends help her notice the benefits: winning at hide-and-seek, being in the front row for pictures, and treating the bathtub like a swimming pool. At 48 pages, this is a bit longer than is typical for picture books for young children, but there is limited text on each page, and the illustrations with plenty of white space help make the story accessible. Leng’s pen, ink, and watercolor drawings—even the trim size of the whole package—are appropriately small in scale and focus; the pictures are reminiscent of James Stevenson’s art. The satisfying ending shows that it doesn’t make any difference if Mimi is sad or glad about being small: She won’t be the smallest in the family any longer, as a new baby brother has just arrived. Mimi—who wears her brown hair short along with jeans, T-shirt, and a sweatshirt (all too big for her, of course)—and her family present white; her friends and fellow students are diverse.

A sweet demonstration that a change in perspective can work wonders. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 2, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5253-0115-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Kids Can

Review Posted Online: Aug. 14, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2018

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A quiet, thought-provoking story of environmental change and the power humans have to slow it.

THE OLD BOAT

A multigenerational tale of a boat’s life with a Black family, written by two brothers who loved similar boats.

In the opening spread, a smiling, brown-skinned adult dangles a line from the back of a green-and-white boat while a boy peers eagerly over the side at the sea life. The text never describes years passing, but each page turn reveals the boy’s aging, more urban development on the shore, increasing water pollution, marine-life changes (sea jellies abound on one page), and shifting water levels. Eventually, the boy, now a teenager, steers the boat, and as an adult, he fishes alone but must go farther and farther out to sea to make his catch. One day, the man loses his way, capsizes in a storm, and washes up on a small bay island, with the overturned, sunken boat just offshore. Now a “new sailor” cleans up the land and water with others’ help. The physical similarities between the shipwrecked sailor and the “new sailor” suggest that this is not a new person but one whose near-death experience has led to an epiphany that changes his relationship to water. As the decaying boat becomes a new marine habitat, the sailor teaches the next generation (a child with hair in two Afro puffs) to fish. Focusing primarily on the sea, the book’s earth-toned illustrations, created with hundreds of stamps, carry the compelling plot.

A quiet, thought-provoking story of environmental change and the power humans have to slow it. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-324-00517-9

Page Count: 56

Publisher: Norton Young Readers

Review Posted Online: Dec. 25, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2021

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A retro-futuristic romp, literally and figuratively screwy.

ROBOBABY

Robo-parents Diode and Lugnut present daughter Cathode with a new little brother—who requires, unfortunately, some assembly.

Arriving in pieces from some mechanistic version of Ikea, little Flange turns out to be a cute but complicated tyke who immediately falls apart…and then rockets uncontrollably about the room after an overconfident uncle tinkers with his basic design. As a squad of helpline techies and bevies of neighbors bearing sludge cake and like treats roll in, the cluttered and increasingly crowded scene deteriorates into madcap chaos—until at last Cath, with help from Roomba-like robodog Sprocket, stages an intervention by whisking the hapless new arrival off to a backyard workshop for a proper assembly and software update. “You’re such a good big sister!” warbles her frazzled mom. Wiesner’s robots display his characteristic clean lines and even hues but endearingly look like vaguely anthropomorphic piles of random jet-engine parts and old vacuum cleaners loosely connected by joints of armored cable. They roll hither and thither through neatly squared-off panels and pages in infectiously comical dismay. Even the end’s domestic tranquility lasts only until Cathode spots the little box buried in the bigger one’s packing material: “TWINS!” (This book was reviewed digitally with 9-by-22-inch double-page spreads viewed at 52% of actual size.)

A retro-futuristic romp, literally and figuratively screwy. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-544-98731-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Clarion

Review Posted Online: June 3, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2020

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