Like the story’s heroine, transitioning readers may feel they are taking a step up to big-kid literature. Just so.

FIRE PIE TROUT

A fishing trip with Gramps helps a little girl feel grown-up.

Very early in the morning, Grace and her Gramps pack all their worms and tackle as well as their favorite lunch—fire pie!—and set off through the fog to their favorite fishing spot. The excited Grace actually rolls down the hill to get to the riverbank. She watches Grampie put a worm on his hook, but taking pity on the creature, she “set[s] the wiggler free” and decides to try an empty hook. Gramps catches two big trout as Grace’s line sits undisturbed in the water. She pulls another worm out of her jar but just can’t bring herself to hook it. Maybe she’s too young to go fishing. Then she gets an idea. She breaks off a bit of crust from her fire pie which, for the first time, readers see is leftover pizza. Almost immediately, Grace finds herself in a big tug of war with a speckled trout, and she wins! Joyfully, Grace realizes that she’s not too young for fishing. And Grampie couldn’t be more proud of her. The handsomely designed book has substantial text and nicely composed illustrations. Though it is not an early reader, simple vocabulary, repetition and uncomplicated sentence structure make it a good choice for beginning readers.

Like the story’s heroine, transitioning readers may feel they are taking a step up to big-kid literature. Just so. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-927083-18-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Fifth House

Review Posted Online: July 16, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 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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