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It's amusing, but it doesn’t accomplish the ongoing mission: #weneeddiversefamilybooks.

A melding of quasi-military and spy jargon delivers a tongue-in-cheek instruction manual for new big brothers and sisters.

None of the racially diverse older siblings depicted reacts with ambivalence or displeasure at their new roles; instead, text and art show how big brothers and sisters in four families adjust with aplomb to the babies who’ve entered their families. Narrative text introduces each task the siblings must complete on their “missions” to integrate the babies into their respective families and the world at large, while speech balloons indicate how they fulfill their duties. For example, the only named character fulfills task No. 8: “SET UP COMMUNICATIONS SYSTEMS” by telling his little sister, “Say ‘Mason!’ Can you say ‘Mason’?” Her speech-balloon response reads, “Dada goo ga goo,” and Mason’s nearby toy robot declares, “DOES NOT COMPUTE.” The humor of each clever scenario drives the book’s success and is nicely supported by Lundquist’s cartoonish art. It’s refreshing to see moms and dads take on varied caretaking roles in the art, but it’d be even nicer to see a family other than Mason’s white, mom-dad-and-two-biological-kids family take center stage; here, the depicted characters of color take a back seat and go unnamed. This is a sweet, funny new-baby book that could be even more special with inclusion or centering of adoption, same-sex parenting or true focus on families of color.

It's amusing, but it doesn’t accomplish the ongoing mission: #weneeddiversefamilybooks. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Feb. 24, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-37672-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Nov. 10, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2014

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Renata’s wren encounter proves magical, one most children could only wish to experience outside of this lovely story.

A home-renovation project is interrupted by a family of wrens, allowing a young girl an up-close glimpse of nature.

Renata and her father enjoy working on upgrading their bathroom, installing a clawfoot bathtub, and cutting a space for a new window. One warm night, after Papi leaves the window space open, two wrens begin making a nest in the bathroom. Rather than seeing it as an unfortunate delay of their project, Renata and Papi decide to let the avian carpenters continue their work. Renata witnesses the birth of four chicks as their rosy eggs split open “like coats that are suddenly too small.” Renata finds at a crucial moment that she can help the chicks learn to fly, even with the bittersweet knowledge that it will only hasten their exits from her life. Rosen uses lively language and well-chosen details to move the story of the baby birds forward. The text suggests the strong bond built by this Afro-Latinx father and daughter with their ongoing project without needing to point it out explicitly, a light touch in a picture book full of delicate, well-drawn moments and precise wording. Garoche’s drawings are impressively detailed, from the nest’s many small bits to the developing first feathers on the chicks and the wall smudges and exposed wiring of the renovation. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10-by-20-inch double-page spreads viewed at actual size.)

Renata’s wren encounter proves magical, one most children could only wish to experience outside of this lovely story. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: March 16, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-12320-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Schwartz & Wade/Random

Review Posted Online: Jan. 12, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2021

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Nice enough but not worth repeat reads.

Emma deals with jitters before playing the guitar in the school talent show.

Pop musician Kevin Jonas and his wife, Danielle, put performance at the center of their picture-book debut. When Emma is intimidated by her very talented friends, the encouragement of her younger sister, Bella, and the support of her family help her to shine her own light. The story is straightforward and the moral familiar: Draw strength from your family and within to overcome your fears. Employing the performance-anxiety trope that’s been written many times over, the book plods along predictably—there’s nothing really new or surprising here. Dawson’s full-color digital illustrations center a White-presenting family along with Emma’s three friends of color: Jamila has tanned skin and wears a hijab; Wendy has dark brown skin and Afro puffs; and Luis has medium brown skin. Emma’s expressive eyes and face are the real draw of the artwork—from worry to embarrassment to joy, it’s clear what she’s feeling. A standout double-page spread depicts Emma’s talent show performance, with a rainbow swirl of music erupting from an amp and Emma rocking a glam outfit and electric guitar. Overall, the book reads pretty plainly, buoyed largely by the artwork. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Nice enough but not worth repeat reads. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: March 29, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-35207-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Razorbill/Penguin

Review Posted Online: Feb. 8, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2022

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