From Italy, a beautiful, charming bedtime story for readers comfortable with ambiguity.

THE HIDEOUT

“ ‘Where are you?’ a voice called. ‘Hurry up, we have to go!’ But Hannah wasn’t there, and no one could find her.”

Those are the sole words printed on the opening, double-page spread. It depicts Hannah’s bedroom, in which readers may spot, among other items, binoculars, art supplies, and a stuffed creature resembling one of Maurice Sendak’s wild things. On the next page, the protagonist is shown in a park, wearing a coonskin cap, aiming a slingshot at a squirrel, and musing about living there instead of heeding the voice that was rushing her. As the pages progress, Hannah does live there for an indeterminate amount of time, her sole companion the Odd Furry Creature, who is apparently mute. The Odd Furry Creature (resembling the toy in Hannah’s bedroom) is not the only homage to Where the Wild Things Are; the fanciful art has the same muted palette and a similar, appealing style. Moreover, the text offers, instead of a plot, a dreamlike dive into Hannah’s psyche. Both art and text deftly illustrate a common, contradictory urge to escape the company of humans while also retaining its safety. The companions live—undetected—in a vine-enclosed space large enough for their feathery capes, leafy beds, and small fire for roasting pigeons on. When Hannah decides to return to those who miss her, the final pages leave readers uncertain about what—if anything—has actually happened. Hannah presents white; humans seen in the background are diverse.

From Italy, a beautiful, charming bedtime story for readers comfortable with ambiguity. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: June 4, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4197-3416-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2019

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A good bet for the youngest bird-watchers.

MAMA BUILT A LITTLE NEST

Echoing the meter of “Mary Had a Little Lamb,” Ward uses catchy original rhymes to describe the variety of nests birds create.

Each sweet stanza is complemented by a factual, engaging description of the nesting habits of each bird. Some of the notes are intriguing, such as the fact that the hummingbird uses flexible spider web to construct its cup-shaped nest so the nest will stretch as the chicks grow. An especially endearing nesting behavior is that of the emperor penguin, who, with unbelievable patience, incubates the egg between his tummy and his feet for up to 60 days. The author clearly feels a mission to impart her extensive knowledge of birds and bird behavior to the very young, and she’s found an appealing and attractive way to accomplish this. The simple rhymes on the left page of each spread, written from the young bird’s perspective, will appeal to younger children, and the notes on the right-hand page of each spread provide more complex factual information that will help parents answer further questions and satisfy the curiosity of older children. Jenkins’ accomplished collage illustrations of common bird species—woodpecker, hummingbird, cowbird, emperor penguin, eagle, owl, wren—as well as exotics, such as flamingoes and hornbills, are characteristically naturalistic and accurate in detail.

A good bet for the youngest bird-watchers.   (author’s note, further resources) (Informational picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 18, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4424-2116-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Beach Lane/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Jan. 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2014

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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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