This well-intentioned effort will surely comfort children coping with similar situations and may lead to further discussions...

GRANDPA MONTY'S MUDDLES

First-person narration from a likable 7-year-old boy describes how he is adapting to the changes that follow once his grandfather moves in after experiencing increased memory loss.

Zafrilla gives Oscar a straightforward yet caring voice to address readers, successfully drawing them into his world, where Grandpa Monty acts strangely, and his family needs to share responsibilities for his care. At first, Grandpa’s actions seemed a bit funny, ironing a fish and trying to open a tree with mailbox keys. But safety becomes a concern, so he moves in, and family members take turns being with Monty so he is never alone. In an effort to help his grandfather, Oscar devises ways to help him “exercise” his memory. The duo look at old photo albums, read the newspaper and do math. Oscar creates a “ ‘word album,’ which [is] really a miniature dictionary with…words from around [the] house.” Diaz ably reflects the text and extends it with gentle touches of humor; Monty takes a sip out of a flower vase and lobs a pumpkin at the basketball hoop. The ending, however, may seem oddly open-ended. Oscar decides to make another album with the names of the states and capitals to further help exercise Grandpa’s memory and to study his lessons at the same time. So the last line questions, “Do you make albums with everything you learn, too?”

This well-intentioned effort will surely comfort children coping with similar situations and may lead to further discussions on how children can help when someone is unwell. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-84-15-24117-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Cuento de Luz

Review Posted Online: Aug. 22, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2012

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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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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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