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

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. 17, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020


A retro-futuristic romp, literally and figuratively screwy.

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 2, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2020


Earnest and silly by turns, it doesn’t quite capture the attention or the imagination, although surely its heart is in the...

Rhymed couplets convey the story of a girl who likes to build things but is shy about it. Neither the poetry nor Rosie’s projects always work well.

Rosie picks up trash and oddments where she finds them, stashing them in her attic room to work on at night. Once, she made a hat for her favorite zookeeper uncle to keep pythons away, and he laughed so hard that she never made anything publicly again. But when her great-great-aunt Rose comes to visit and reminds Rosie of her own past building airplanes, she expresses her regret that she still has not had the chance to fly. Great-great-aunt Rose is visibly modeled on Rosie the Riveter, the iconic, red-bandanna–wearing poster woman from World War II. Rosie decides to build a flying machine and does so (it’s a heli-o-cheese-copter), but it fails. She’s just about to swear off making stuff forever when Aunt Rose congratulates her on her failure; now she can go on to try again. Rosie wears her hair swooped over one eye (just like great-great-aunt Rose), and other figures have exaggerated hairdos, tiny feet and elongated or greatly rounded bodies. The detritus of Rosie’s collections is fascinating, from broken dolls and stuffed animals to nails, tools, pencils, old lamps and possibly an erector set. And cheddar-cheese spray.

Earnest and silly by turns, it doesn’t quite capture the attention or the imagination, although surely its heart is in the right place. (historical note) (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-4197-0845-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: July 16, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2013

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