A poignant and concise look at a preemie’s odyssey.

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JACOB'S JOURNEY

THE BOY BORN EARLY

A premature baby recalls his journey in this debut rhyming picture book, based on a true story.

Jacob explains that he is born months too early. After birth, he is taken to a big room where there are “wires and tubes all over the place.” He chronicles his experiences in a hot, bright, clear box where he is hooked up to tubes that help him breathe and eat. Although his parents are sad, they remain hopeful that Jacob will grow healthy. Jacob explains that he needs to stay in the hospital in order to become bigger and stronger. He discusses being frequently tested and examined by nurses. He also sees other mothers, “many of whom often wept.” Eventually, Jacob observes that his mom is beginning to look less unhappy. He is even visited by family members who get to hold him. Now, Jacob asserts, he is big and strong enough to live at home without tubes. Although his life is just beginning, Jacob concludes: “I am mighty, I am fierce, I will continue to fight.” The illustrations here are manipulated family photographs of the pale-skinned Jacob in various circumstances, such as being hooked up to machines and cradled by loved ones. Moniz, Jacob’s mother, provides a succinct depiction of a premature baby’s experience in child-friendly language. The moving tale may be most appreciated by parents and families dealing with babies in a similar situation. 

A poignant and concise look at a preemie’s odyssey.

Pub Date: Dec. 12, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5255-6241-9

Page Count: 52

Publisher: FriesenPress

Review Posted Online: Feb. 8, 2020

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Readers can still rely on this series to bring laughs.

WRECKING BALL

From the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series , Vol. 14

The Heffley family’s house undergoes a disastrous attempt at home improvement.

When Great Aunt Reba dies, she leaves some money to the family. Greg’s mom calls a family meeting to determine what to do with their share, proposing home improvements and then overruling the family’s cartoonish wish lists and instead pushing for an addition to the kitchen. Before bringing in the construction crew, the Heffleys attempt to do minor maintenance and repairs themselves—during which Greg fails at the work in various slapstick scenes. Once the professionals are brought in, the problems keep getting worse: angry neighbors, terrifying problems in walls, and—most serious—civil permitting issues that put the kibosh on what work’s been done. Left with only enough inheritance to patch and repair the exterior of the house—and with the school’s dismal standardized test scores as a final straw—Greg’s mom steers the family toward moving, opening up house-hunting and house-selling storylines (and devastating loyal Rowley, who doesn’t want to lose his best friend). While Greg’s positive about the move, he’s not completely uncaring about Rowley’s action. (And of course, Greg himself is not as unaffected as he wishes.) The gags include effectively placed callbacks to seemingly incidental events (the “stress lizard” brought in on testing day is particularly funny) and a lampoon of after-school-special–style problem books. Just when it seems that the Heffleys really will move, a new sequence of chaotic trouble and property destruction heralds a return to the status quo. Whew.

Readers can still rely on this series to bring laughs. (Graphic/fiction hybrid. 8-12)

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4197-3903-3

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Amulet/Abrams

Review Posted Online: Nov. 19, 2019

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Should be packaged with an oxygen supply, as it will incontestably elicit uncontrollable gales of giggles.

THE DINKY DONKEY

Even more alliterative hanky-panky from the creators of The Wonky Donkey (2010).

Operating on the principle (valid, here) that anything worth doing is worth overdoing, Smith and Cowley give their wildly popular Wonky Donkey a daughter—who, being “cute and small,” was a “dinky donkey”; having “beautiful long eyelashes” she was in consequence a “blinky dinky donkey”; and so on…and on…and on until the cumulative chorus sails past silly and ludicrous to irresistibly hysterical: “She was a stinky funky plinky-plonky winky-tinky,” etc. The repeating “Hee Haw!” chorus hardly suggests what any audience’s escalating response will be. In the illustrations the daughter sports her parent’s big, shiny eyes and winsome grin while posing in a multicolored mohawk next to a rustic boombox (“She was a punky blinky”), painting her hooves pink, crossing her rear legs to signal a need to pee (“winky-tinky inky-pinky”), demonstrating her smelliness with the help of a histrionic hummingbird, and finally cozying up to her proud, evidently single parent (there’s no sign of another) for a closing cuddle.

Should be packaged with an oxygen supply, as it will incontestably elicit uncontrollable gales of giggles. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-60083-4

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

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