A lovely, cousinly twist on the new-baby story

LORETTA'S GIFT

Loretta is excited to find the perfect gift for her new baby cousin.

Loretta’s aunt Esme and uncle Jax are expecting a new baby. Loretta’s mom knits a furry hat, her dad buys a pile of diapers, Uncle Jax builds a cradle, and Aunt Esme fills the nursery with family photos. As the gifts pile up, Loretta realizes she doesn’t have anything to give to the new baby. Even as she frets, Loretta actively takes part in loving and caring for Gabe, till on his first birthday, Aunt Esme assures Loretta that she is the best gift Gabe has ever gotten. Loretta comes to acknowledge that Aunt Esme is right—and that Gabe can never outgrow her love. This warm and affectionate tale will engage readers. Marley’s artwork is whimsically earthy, featuring muted greens and rich browns and weaving in leaves, flowers, and touches of nature as accents. She depicts Loretta, her parents, and Aunt Esme with brown skin and Afro-textured black hair; Uncle Jax has pale skin and straight, brown hair. The important message that quality time is as valuable as gifts bought in a store is familiar and always appreciated. Lovers of Family, by Isabell Monk and illustrated by Janice Lee Porter (2001), and Home in the Rain, by Bob Graham (2017), will enjoy this adorable story featuring a multicultural family.

A lovely, cousinly twist on the new-baby story . (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Aug. 14, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4998-0681-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little Bee Books

Review Posted Online: April 25, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2018

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DONOVAN'S BIG DAY

It may be his mothers’ wedding day, but it’s Donovan’s big day in Newman’s (Heather Has Two Mommies, 1989, etc.) latest picture book about queer family life. Centered on the child’s experience and refreshingly eschewing reference to controversy, the book emerges as a celebration of not only Mommy’s and Mama’s mutual love but progress toward equal marriage rights for same-sex couples. Readers, however, don't know immediately know why it is “a very BIG day” for Donovan or what the “very BIG job” is that he has to do. In his affectionate, humorous gouache paintings with digital finish, Dutton cleverly includes clues in the form of family pictures in an earlier spread set inside their home, and then a later spread shows Donovan in a suit and placing a “little white satin box that Aunt Jennifer gave him” into his pocket, hinting toward his role as ring bearer. But it’s not until the third-to-last spread that he stands with his parents and hands “one shiny gold ring to Mommy [and] one shiny gold ring to Mama.” He, of course, gets to kiss the brides on the last page, lending a happily-ever-after sensibility to the end of this story about a family's new beginning. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: April 26, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-58246-332-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Tricycle

Review Posted Online: March 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2011

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Engines won’t be the only thing roaring their approval when this book hits storytime.

ELBOW GREASE VS. MOTOZILLA

Who needs sanity when you’ve got family?

The title character of Elbow Grease (2018) and his family of Demolition Derby trucks return to face an all-new competitor. Once again, ’Bo is feeling inadequate next to his fan-favorite brothers. Despite Mel the Mechanic’s encouragement—he’s “the best at getting better”—he wants to be noticed. But instead, he notices someone unavoidable. Motozilla, the monster machine that turns trucks “into crunch sandwiches,” is currently undefeated. Trouble is, you’d need a truck with an array of skills to take him down. Thinking fast, ’Bo makes the wild and somewhat improbable suggestion that he and his brothers join together to form a single supertruck. Will it be enough to take down this bully? Quips, jests, and teamwork are the name of the game as pro wrestler Cena improves on his writing in this second outing, which demonstrates that individual glory falls in the face of concentrated cooperation. Rollicking, radical art portrays the battle in all its gritty glory, mud and twisted metal galore. Human crowds show a diverse range of races and genders, and the trucks’ keeper, Mel, has light-brown skin and wears glasses.

Engines won’t be the only thing roaring their approval when this book hits storytime. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Oct. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5247-7353-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: June 30, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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