An effervescent outing with a refreshingly (or, in some quarters, distressingly) subversive message.

THE SPACE WALK

What better way to meet a new friend than taking a walk outside—even in space?

In a strangely familiar exchange, astronaut Randolph Witherspoon whines that he’s bored, and Ground Control grants permission for a stroll outside—as soon as he has lunch and cleans up his capsule. One warning: “Don’t talk to strangers!” A packet of mashed Brussels sprouts and a bit of housekeeping later, Randolph is out the hatch, floating in space that Biggs has festooned with swirly, polka-dot planets in party colors, and snapping pictures of various astro-wonders. When one of these last (looking like a tin can trailing a cluster of mechanical arms) displays a googly eye, it takes but a few big, wordless panels before astronaut and ET are happily orbiting each other, taking selfies together, and finally exchanging goodbye hugs. “Spacewalk complete!” Randolph informs Ground Control, asking if he can go out again later. “We’ll see in the morning.” It will not be lost on children that while Randolph may not actively talk to his unexpected companion, he does not seem to be observing the letter of Ground Control’s law. The porousness of this aspect of the narrative should lead to some interesting conversations between listeners and caregivers.

An effervescent outing with a refreshingly (or, in some quarters, distressingly) subversive message. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 29, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-55337-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2019

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Though told by two outsiders to the culture, this timely and well-crafted story will educate readers on the preciousness of...

THE WATER PRINCESS

An international story tackles a serious global issue with Reynolds’ characteristic visual whimsy.

Gie Gie—aka Princess Gie Gie—lives with her parents in Burkina Faso. In her kingdom under “the African sky, so wild and so close,” she can tame wild dogs with her song and make grass sway, but despite grand attempts, she can neither bring the water closer to home nor make it clean. French words such as “maintenant!” (now!) and “maman” (mother) and local color like the karite tree and shea nuts place the story in a French-speaking African country. Every morning, Gie Gie and her mother perch rings of cloth and large clay pots on their heads and walk miles to the nearest well to fetch murky, brown water. The story is inspired by model Georgie Badiel, who founded the Georgie Badiel Foundation to make clean water accessible to West Africans. The details in Reynolds’ expressive illustrations highlight the beauty of the West African landscape and of Princess Gie Gie, with her cornrowed and beaded hair, but will also help readers understand that everyone needs clean water—from the children of Burkina Faso to the children of Flint, Michigan.

Though told by two outsiders to the culture, this timely and well-crafted story will educate readers on the preciousness of potable water. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 13, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-399-17258-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 18, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2016

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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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