MOM PIE

Jonell’s (It’s My Birthday, Too!, 1999, etc.) latest adventure involving siblings Robbie and Christopher comically captures that classic conundrum: when moms are at their busiest, their children are at their neediest. As the imminent arrival of company looms, Mommy is in a frenzy of activity. Distraught after their offerings of assistance are summarily declined, Robbie laments to his brother that not even the tantalizing prospect of three different types of pie is worth the loss of their mom’s attention. Thus, Christopher devises a plan to create a “Mom Pie” a hodgepodge of items conveying the essence of mom. A helping of something soft, a pinch of something snuggly, a stray earring stirred in, and the addition of Mom’s perfume completes the recipe. When the pair proudly places their creation on the table, their mom is exasperated and baffled until the boys explain, “ ‘Mom pie is not good to eat . . . It is good to touch and smell.’ ‘And to snuggle with,’ said Robbie, ‘when you are too busy.’ ” Jonell’s sympathetic tale is on the mark; parents will appreciate the wry humor of the mother’s harried responses while the child-like prose aptly expresses a little one’s perspective. Mathers’s colorful, cartoon-like drawings are the perfect accompaniment. Framed vignettes highlight the action and the humor—hilarious glimpses of Mom frantically scurrying about, as reflected in a mirror or racing down the hall, are cleverly inserted into the illustrations. Poignant, but funny, this one is sure to resonate with readers, both adult and child. A touching and astute tale about keeping the important things in perspective for frazzled moms and their bewildered offspring. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: March 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-399-23422-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2000

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An effective early chapter book conveyed in a slightly overdone gag.

DEAR BEAST

Epistolary dispatches from the eternal canine/feline feud.

Simon the cat is angry. He had done a good job taking care of his boy, Andy, but now that Andy’s parents are divorced, a dog named Baxter has moved into Andy’s dad’s house. Simon believes that there isn’t enough room in Andy’s life for two furry friends, so he uses the power of the pen to get Baxter to move out. Inventively for the early-chapter-book format, the story is told in letters written back and forth; Simon’s are impeccably spelled on personalized stationery while Baxter’s spelling slowly improves through the letters he scrawls on scraps of paper. A few other animals make appearances—a puffy-lipped goldfish who for some reason punctuates her letter with “Blub…blub…” seems to be the only female character (cued through stereotypical use of eyelashes and red lipstick), and a mustachioed snail ferries the mail to and fro. White-appearing Andy is seen playing with both animals as a visual background to the text, as is his friend Noah (a dark-skinned child who perhaps should not be nicknamed “N Man”). Cat lovers will appreciate Simon’s prickliness while dog aficionados will likely enjoy Baxter’s obtuse enthusiasm, and all readers will learn about the time and patience it takes to overcome conflict and jealousy with someone you dislike.

An effective early chapter book conveyed in a slightly overdone gag. (Fiction. 6-8)

Pub Date: May 12, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-8234-4492-2

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: Jan. 21, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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Heartfelt content for children who need to feel seen.

BEING YOU

Words addressed to children aimed at truth-telling, encouraging, and inspiring are accompanied by pictures of children of color going about their days.

“This story is about you,” the narrator opens, as a black boy looks up toward readers, a listening expression on his face. A multiracial group of children romp in a playground to encouraging words: “you are… / a dancer / a singer / in charge of the game.” Then comes a warning about the “whispers” out in the world that “tell you who you are / But only you and love decide.” There is advice about what to do when you “think there is nowhere safe”: “Watch a bird soar / and think, / Me too.” It asks readers to wonder: “If there was a sign on your chest / what would it say?” Children argue and show frustration and anger for reasons unclear to readers, then they hold up signs about themselves, such as “I am powerful” and “I am talented.” A girl looks hurt, and a boy looks “tough” until someone finds them “sitting there wondering / when the sky will blue.” While the words are general, the pictures specify a teacher, who is brown-skinned with straight black hair, as one who “can see you.” While young readers may find the wording unusual, even obscure in places, the nurturing message will not be lost.

Heartfelt content for children who need to feel seen. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-68446-021-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Capstone Young Readers

Review Posted Online: Aug. 14, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2018

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