Comfort for both children and parents in an all-too-familiar situation.

It’s hard to stay brave when it’s time to say goodbye.

Katie Honors, whom readers may remember from Sometimes I Grumblesquinch (2022), is back. This time, she explains that she is a “really brave kid.” She stands proudly “like a superhero,” climbs high on the playground, and needs to be checked on at night only once…or twice. She can even hold in her tears when it’s time to say goodbye at what looks like preschool…at first. Yum’s familiar and comforting colored pencil drawings portray the inner emotions that belie Katie’s brave front as she says, “Bye, I love you. See you soon,” her face radiating pure misery and the cheery yellow star on her T-shirt drooping. Sometimes, however, she can’t contain those feelings and she KAPLOOMS. With her eyes squeezed shut, she grabs her mother, lets out a roar, and radiates lightning and sparks. She becomes unable to hear the voices around her. Her mother initially asks her to be brave but then changes tactics, simply holding Katie and acknowledging that bravery and sadness, tears, and fear are not exclusive—that you can be “brave and KAPLOOMING” at the same time. Her loving actions model a healthy response for adults and also validate children’s feelings during this rite of passage. Katie and her mother have straight dark hair, light skin, and dark dots for eyes. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Comfort for both children and parents in an all-too-familiar situation. (author’s and illustrator’s notes) (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2023

ISBN: 9781338840308

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Orchard/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: June 21, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2023


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


Warm but underdone.

In this picture book from actor Gyllenhaal and his partner, Caruso, a child and his uncle bond on a fantastic journey.

Leo, an avid dancer, is dismayed when Uncle Mo visits—he’s in town for a “rubber band convention.” Illustrations show both with wavy brown hair and light tan skin. Not only does Leo think his uncle is rather dull, he’s also leery of Uncle Mo’s many rules. A rather abrupt narrative shift occurs when the pair inexplicably drive into another dimension. Here they encounter Great-Aunt Gloria (who is very tall and presents Black) and Uncle Munkle Carbunkle (who is very short and light-skinned), who guide them through the Secret Society of Aunts & Uncles. Unimpressed with Uncle Mo, Great-Aunt Gloria says he must take a quiz on “Auntieology and Uncleology.” After several wrong answers, Uncle Mo has a final chance at redemption: He must state his nephew’s favorite activity. When Leo springs into action to dance for his clueless uncle, a mishap leaves him mortified and un-bespectacled. Enter Uncle Mo to save the day by using a rubber band to secure Leo’s glasses. While Santat’s energetic illustrations do much to clarify the narrative, they can’t fully make up for the disjointed storytelling—it’s never clear why the two have entered this dimension or why Leo is suddenly so eager to help Uncle Mo. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Warm but underdone. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2023

ISBN: 9781250776990

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Review Posted Online: July 13, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2023

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