A real slice of family life, the sweet with the bitter. (Fiction. 5-8)

SADIE AND RATZ

Sadie and Ratz, Hannah’s menacing hands, help her to handle her sibling rivalry in this piercingly intelligent foray into chapter books by much-awarded teen author Hartnett.

Hannah lives with her parents and her stick insect, Pin. She would like to have a real pet, but all she has is the disappointing Baby Boy, who is the object of Sadie and Ratz’s anger. When he does the things little brothers do (going into her room, changing the channel or using markers), Sadie and Ratz wake up, jump onto Baby Boy’s head and rub his ears off. One day, the game is changed when Baby Boy starts acting like a crafty 4-year-old.  He spills milk, writes on the wall and breaks a valuable timepiece but blames everything on his sister’s naughty hands. When Pin is found missing a leg after Hannah sends her hands on vacation, the parents start to see the truth. The tale is accompanied by warm, expressive gestural charcoal drawings on every page that add much to the story, drawing readers' eyes to the characters' real feelings. Ending on the hopeful note that Baby Boy’s hands and Hannah’s hands are going to be friends, this is one story of sibling rivalry that seems realistic. The kids might not be friends, but their naughty hands can be! For big sisters and Baby Boys adjusting to each other.

A real slice of family life, the sweet with the bitter. (Fiction. 5-8)

Pub Date: March 27, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-7636-5315-6

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Dec. 21, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2012

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Fun but earnest, this rhyming romp reminds readers that one young person can make a difference.

SOFIA VALDEZ, FUTURE PREZ

From the Questioneers series

Sofia Valdez proves that community organizers of any age can have a positive impact.

After a trash-heap eyesore causes an injury to her beloved abuelo, Sofia springs into action to bring big change to her neighborhood. The simple rhymes of the text follow Sofia on her journey from problem through ideas to action as she garners community support for an idyllic new park to replace the dangerous junk pile. When bureaucracy threatens to quash Sofia’s nascent plan, she digs deep and reflects that “being brave means doing the thing you must do, / though your heart cracks with fear. / Though you’re just in Grade Two.” Sofia’s courage yields big results and inspires those around her to lend a hand. Implied Latinx, Sofia and her abuelo have medium brown skin, and Sofia has straight brown hair (Abuelo is bald). Readers will recognize Iggy Peck, Rosie Revere, and Ada Twist from Beaty’s previous installments in the Questioneers series making cameo appearances in several scenes. While the story connects back to the title and her aptitude for the presidency in only the second-to-last sentence of the book, Sofia’s leadership and grit are themes throughout. Roberts’ signature illustration style lends a sense of whimsy; detailed drawings will have readers scouring each page for interesting minutiae.

Fun but earnest, this rhyming romp reminds readers that one young person can make a difference. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4197-3704-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: Nov. 24, 2019

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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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