This book could have used a little trimming, but it’s clever enough to make kids curious about their own given names.

MY NAME IS AVIVA

The mean kids at Aviva’s school are cleverer than the mean kids in most neighborhoods.

When students at Aviva’s school want to make fun of her name, they call her “Amoeba” and “Viva La France.” This requires a certain level of sophistication. (A really cruel kid might have called her “Bieber,” but then the book would be instantly out of date.) Aviva is ready to change her name to Emily until her parents tell her why they chose that particular name. Even the youngest Jewish readers will probably guess the secret the moment Aviva’s parents start talking about her great-grandmother Ada, an immigrant from Russia who “studied the English newspaper every night to learn her ABC’s” and sewed stitches “as fine as spider webs.” Stories about Ada run throughout the book—arguably, at least one story too many. The parents are reminded of a story every time they do something she did: sew on a button or pick up a book. The device is contrived and repetitive, but the stories are often moving and do lead finally to the information that Ada’s Hebrew name was Aviva. And Jatkowska’s illustrations are charming. They look like patchwork dolls, pieced together from items found around the house.

This book could have used a little trimming, but it’s clever enough to make kids curious about their own given names. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4677-2654-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Kar-Ben

Review Posted Online: June 29, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2015

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A nicely inventive little morality “tail” for newly independent readers.

THE INFAMOUS RATSOS

From the Infamous Ratsos series , Vol. 1

Two little rats decide to show the world how tough they are, with unpredictable results.

Louie and Ralphie Ratso want to be just like their single dad, Big Lou: tough! They know that “tough” means doing mean things to other animals, like stealing Chad Badgerton’s hat. Chad Badgerton is a big badger, so taking that hat from him proves that Louie and Ralphie are just as tough as they want to be. However, it turns out that Louie and Ralphie have just done a good deed instead of a bad one: Chad Badgerton had taken that hat from little Tiny Crawley, a mouse, so when Tiny reclaims it, they are celebrated for goodness rather than toughness. Sadly, every attempt Louie and Ralphie make at doing mean things somehow turns nice. What’s a little boy rat supposed to do to be tough? Plus, they worry about what their dad will say when he finds out how good they’ve been. But wait! Maybe their dad has some other ideas? LaReau keeps the action high and completely appropriate for readers embarking on chapter books. Each of the first six chapters features a new, failed attempt by Louie and Ralphie to be mean, and the final, seventh chapter resolves everything nicely. The humor springs from their foiled efforts and their reactions to their failures. Myers’ sprightly grayscale drawings capture action and characters and add humorous details, such as the Ratsos’ “unwelcome” mat.

A nicely inventive little morality “tail” for newly independent readers. (Fiction. 5-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 2, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-7636-7636-0

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: May 4, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 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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