A child frets about her mother leaving for the evening in this quirky, appealing tale. Arranged as a conversation between mother and child, the text addresses all the far-fetched fears a child can conjure. Rampaging pirates, lurking dragons, beguiling circus careers, a perilous giant, and even an impossibly enceinte feline are all put forth as valid reasons for the mother to stay home. After mother leaves with a reassuring hug, the child discovers all the fun having a sitter can entail. As the evening wanes, the young girl eagerly anticipates when her sitter will come again to play. The ingeniously arranged illustrations are the real lure here. A full-bleed, two-page spread focuses on each specific concern; the upper three-quarters of the spread feature the girl’s vivid imaginings: Mama decked out in her evening finery (including tiara) valiantly battling pirates, cavorting at the circus, etc. The lower quarter of the pages depicts the reality: the daughter in a pirate’s hat brandishing a wand, or playing circus with her stuffed animals. Dividing the fantasy from the reality is a swath of ribbon that runs across the spread, with the text printed onto the cloth. The gaily colored ribbons overlay the illustrations for an intriguing collage effect. After mother leaves, the spreads become more balanced, with the ribbons dividing the pages in half, as each portion reflects the reality of the mother’s night out and the child’s enjoyable time with her sitter. The final scene depicting the child nestled in bed with her mother, now returned safely home is all the reassurance a wary child could need. Imaginative and brimming with lively artwork, this is bound to captivate and soothe anxious readers. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2002

ISBN: 1-58234-790-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2002



Mr. Brown can’t help with farm chores because his shoes are missing—a common occurrence in his household and likely in many readers’ as well.

Children will be delighted that the titular Mr. Brown is in fact a child. After Mr. Brown looks in his closet and sorts through his other family members’ shoes with no luck, his father and his siblings help him search the farm. Eventually—after colorful pages that enable readers to spot footwear hiding—the family gives up on their hunt, and Mr. Brown asks to be carried around for the chores. He rides on his father’s shoulders as Papa gets his work done, as seen on a double-page spread of vignettes. The resolution is more of a lesson for the adult readers than for children, a saccharine moment where father and son express their joy that the missing shoes gave them the opportunity for togetherness—with advice for other parents to appreciate those fleeting moments themselves. Though the art is bright and cheerful, taking advantage of the setting, it occasionally is misaligned with the text (for example, the text states that Mr. Brown is wearing his favorite green shirt while the illustration is of a shirt with wide stripes of white and teal blue, which could confuse readers at the point where they’re trying to figure out which family member is Mr. Brown). The family is light-skinned. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Pedestrian. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 14, 2023

ISBN: 978-1-5460-0389-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: WorthyKids/Ideals

Review Posted Online: Nov. 15, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2022


From the Max & Ruby series

In the siblings' latest adventure, their grandmother is having a birthday (again! see Bunny Cakes, p. 67), so Ruby takes Max shopping. A music box with skating ballerinas is Ruby's idea of the perfect present; Max favors a set of plastic vampire teeth. Ruby's $15 goes fast, and somehow, most of it is spent on Max. The music box of Ruby's dreams costs $100, so she settles for musical earrings instead. There isn't even a dollar left for the bus, so Max digs out his lucky quarter and phones Grandma, who drives them home—happily wearing her new earrings and vampire teeth. As ever, Wells's sympathies are with the underdog: Max, in one-word sentences, out-maneuvers his officious sister once again. Most six- year-olds will be able to do the mental subtraction necessary to keep track of Ruby's money, and Wells helps by illustrating the wallet and its dwindling contents at the bottom of each page where a transaction occurs. Younger children may need to follow the author's suggestion and have an adult photocopy the ``bunny money'' on the endpapers, so they can count it out. Either way, the book is a great adjunct to primary-grade math lessons. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1997

ISBN: 0-8037-2146-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1997

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