A cozy, comfortable book for a rainy night.

THE BIG BAD BLACKOUT

From the Judy Moody and Stink series , Vol. 3

It’s hurricane season in Virginia, and Stink and Judy Moody are in for some dark nights.

The Moodys are stuck in their house with no electricity when Hurricane Elmer strikes. What could be challenging turns into an enjoyable few days, especially when Grandma Lou joins the family with Gert, her kayak, and an assortment of animals she has taken in for friends who could not take them to the shelter. Losing power is nothing new to these hearty residents of the Virginia Beach area. Grandma is soon cooking food over a fire in the fireplace, and Stink is imagining himself a pioneer like his hero (and latest obsession), Abraham Lincoln. The nights are filled with board games played like musical chairs, switching games when the music from the old-time (presumably battery-operated) CD player changes, and listening to stories. Sometimes they read aloud, but the best part is telling stories. Whether it’s a story about a special chicken, a disastrous hurricane wedding or Judy’s Mr. Drybones story, everyone enjoys the time together. Readers of this fine series will enjoy the full-color illustrations and the little rain clouds above the page numbers. New fans can join in the fun—no need to have read the earlier books to enjoy this newest one.

A cozy, comfortable book for a rainy night. (Fiction. 5-9)

Pub Date: April 8, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-7636-6520-3

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Feb. 19, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2014

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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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