A sweet rumination on family, home, and belonging.

When a child struggles to fall asleep, a night walk with Dad around the neighborhood proves transformative.

Through the lit windows of the houses in her neighborhood—and in what appears to be a nearby, more urban area—the narrator gets a look at a shopkeeper who is grumpy by day but joyful by night and a Muslim family with hijabi female members having a cozy, late dinner. The unnamed protagonist marvels at how much happens all around town after bedtime. The child’s father recounts that when he was younger, he lived in a rural area where he could walk through the dark for miles without encountering anyone else. His observation makes the child reflect on the home they share and how everything that’s known and unknown about it—the day and the night, the friends and the strangers—contributes to a sense of belonging. The sparse, lyrical text lends the book a cozy, poetic quality that is both soothing and whimsical. The illustrations incorporate diverse body types, skin tones, and faith markers, and they represent a variety of homes ranging from two-story houses to apartment buildings. The book’s only flaw is that the text, while well written, meanders such that the story’s ending feels more like a surprise than a conclusion to the plot arc. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10-by-16.6-inch double-page spreads viewed at 65.1% of actual size.)

A sweet rumination on family, home, and belonging. (Picture book. 2-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 29, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-55498-796-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Groundwood

Review Posted Online: Aug. 17, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2020


Sentimental but effective.

A book aimed at easing separation anxiety and reinforcing bonds.

Twins Liza and Jeremy awaken during a thunderstorm and go to their mother for comfort. She reassures them that they’re safe and says, “You know we’re always together, no matter what,” when they object to returning to bed. She then explains that when she was a child her mother told her about the titular “Invisible String,” encouraging them to envision it as a link between them no matter what. “People who love each other are always connected by a very special String made of love,” she tells them, reinforcing this idea as they proceed to imagine various scenarios, fantastic and otherwise, that might cause them to be separated in body. She also affirms that this string can “reach all the way to Uncle Brian in heaven” and that it doesn’t go away if she’s angry with them or when they have conflicts. As they go to bed, reassured, the children, who present white, imagine their friends and diverse people around the world connected with invisible strings, promoting a vision of global unity and empathy. While the writing often feels labored and needlessly repetitive, Lew-Vriethoff’s playful cartoon art enhances and lightens the message-driven text, which was originally published in 2000 with illustrations by Geoff Stevenson.

Sentimental but effective. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Oct. 30, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-316-48623-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Sept. 29, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2018


The visual details invite interaction, making it a good choice for storytime or solo inspection.

It’s a quiet day, until….

“I have a bot!” An excited child’s happiness is short-lived, for the remote-controlled toy escapes its wireless tether and begins an ascent up the side of a skyscraper. The building’s doorman launches a race to recover the bot, and soon everyone wants to help. Attempts to retrieve the bot, which is rendered as a red rectangle with a propeller, arms, and a rudimentary face, go from the mundanity of a broom to the absurd—a bright orange beehive hairdo and a person-sized Venus’ flytrap are just some of the silly implements the building’s occupants use to try to rein in the bot. Each double-page spread reveals another level of the building—and further visual hijinks—as the bot makes its way to the top, where an unexpected hero waits (keep an eye out for falling bananas). The tall, narrow trim size echoes the shape of the skyscraper, providing a sense of height as the bot rises. Text is minimal; short declarations in tidy black dialogue bubbles with white courier-style typeface leave the primary-colored, blocky art to effectively carry the story. Facial expressions—both human and bot—are comically spot-on. The bot-owning child has light skin, and there are several people of color among those trying to rescue the bot. One person wears a kufi.

The visual details invite interaction, making it a good choice for storytime or solo inspection. (Picture book. 2-6)

Pub Date: July 23, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-425-28881-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: March 30, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2019

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