Kids will enjoy the quirky visuals while appreciating the creative relationship of these two companions.

MAXINE AND THE GREATEST GARDEN EVER

Two friends strengthen their bond when their gardening project needs more ingenuity than originally anticipated.

Maxine, a science-oriented little White girl with a pet goldfish, loves to read and make constructive gadgets. Her friend Leo, a little Black boy, also likes making things, though from an artistic perspective. Together they decide to carefully design a garden. Maxine creates a practical blueprint while Leo draws a colorful diagram. Both plans allow them to plot, dig, and plant a beautiful and expansive space that includes a pond for Milton, Maxine’s pet fish. After their produce begins to sprout, however, some unwanted visitors slink in to ravage the fruits of all their hard work. Oh, no—now they need a new idea to keep those critters away. An average scarecrow doesn’t do the trick, so the kids get to work and build a “critter-creeping, laser-tripping, disco-ball-blinking, tuba-tooting… / SUPER SPECTACULAR SCARECROW!” But it only makes things worse by loudly disturbing everyone but their animal invaders. Initial disappointment and failure lead to blame and argument and then remorse and apologies. Both Maxine and Leo realize that “it takes a long time to grow a garden…but even longer to grow a friend.” Hatam offers kids lots of minutiae to look at, including clever endpapers with comical one-liners (“Thyme to Turnip the Beet”). Her detailed, animated, vibrant drawings accentuate the drama and neatly depict the concluding message that celebrates compromise. (This book was reviewed digitally with 9-by-17-inch double-page spreads viewed at 62.7% of actual size.)

Kids will enjoy the quirky visuals while appreciating the creative relationship of these two companions. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Feb. 16, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-399-18630-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Nov. 18, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

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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 Books

Review Posted Online: June 3, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2020

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Doubles down on a basic math concept with a bit of character development.

DOUBLE PUPPY TROUBLE

From the McKellar Math series

A child who insists on having MORE of everything gets MORE than she can handle.

Demanding young Moxie Jo is delighted to discover that pushing the button on a stick she finds in the yard doubles anything she points to. Unfortunately, when she points to her puppy, Max, the button gets stuck—and in no time one dog has become two, then four, then eight, then….Readers familiar with the “Sorcerer’s Apprentice” or Tomie dePaola’s Strega Nona will know how this is going to go, and Masse obliges by filling up succeeding scenes with burgeoning hordes of cute yellow puppies enthusiastically making a shambles of the house. McKellar puts an arithmetical spin on the crisis—“The number of pups exponentially grew: / They each multiplied times a factor of 2!” When clumsy little brother Clark inadvertently intervenes, Moxie Jo is left wiser about her real needs (mostly). An appended section uses lemons to show how exponential doubling quickly leads to really big numbers. Stuart J. Murphy’s Double the Ducks (illustrated by Valeria Petrone, 2002) in the MathStart series explores doubling from a broader perspective and includes more backmatter to encourage further study, but this outing adds some messaging: Moxie Jo’s change of perspective may give children with sharing issues food for thought. She and her family are White; her friends are racially diverse. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Doubles down on a basic math concept with a bit of character development. (Informational picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: July 26, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-101-93386-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: March 30, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2022

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