AUNT MINNIE MCGRANAHAN

Prigger bases her engaging debut on an incident in her own family. The setting is 1920, so Minnie can’t be considered obsessive-compulsive; instead, she’s a woman with a system for keeping things shipshape and just so. Her farmhouse is trim and neat, as is her garden and barn. Her neighbors snipe that it’s a good thing that Minnie, a spinster, has no children, who would surely interfere with her system. Then the telegram arrives: “Come quick. Your brother and his wife have had an accident. Their children are orphans in need of a home.” Aunt Minnie goes and gathers the children, all nine of them, in a thrice. The neighbors look on with amazement (as will readers) when all the potential for pandemonium is breezily absorbed into Aunt Minnie’s system: “The oldest looked after the youngest. The ones in the middle looked after each other. And Aunt Minnie looked after them all.” Tweak this template a little, and it works for grocery shopping, housework, bathing, and going to the johnny house. There are episodes of stubbornness and fretting, dawdling, pouting, and crying; there is also noise, music, laughter, and hugging, all captured with elemental clarity and a visual caress in Lewin’s watercolors. This story is a sweet and simple song of grace, love, and responsibilities met; it will leave children aglow and adults in tears. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: March 22, 1999

ISBN: 0-395-82270-X

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Clarion Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1999

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KEVIN AND HIS DAD

There is something profoundly elemental going on in Smalls’s book: the capturing of a moment of unmediated joy. It’s not melodramatic, but just a Saturday in which an African-American father and son immerse themselves in each other’s company when the woman of the house is away. Putting first things first, they tidy up the house, with an unheralded sense of purpose motivating their actions: “Then we clean, clean, clean the windows,/wipe, wipe, wash them right./My dad shines in the windows’ light.” When their work is done, they head for the park for some batting practice, then to the movies where the boy gets to choose between films. After a snack, they work their way homeward, racing each other, doing a dance step or two, then “Dad takes my hand and slows down./I understand, and we slow down./It’s a long, long walk./We have a quiet talk and smile.” Smalls treats the material without pretense, leaving it guileless and thus accessible to readers. Hays’s artwork is wistful and idyllic, just as this day is for one small boy. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: April 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-316-79899-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 1999

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WAITING FOR BABY

One of a four-book series designed to help the very young prepare for new siblings, this title presents a toddler-and-mother pair (the latter heavily pregnant) as they read about new babies, sort hand-me-downs, buy new toys, visit the obstetrician and the sonographer, speculate and wait. Throughout, the child asks questions and makes exclamations with complete enthusiasm: “How big is the baby? What does it eat? I felt it move! Is it a boy or girl?” Fuller’s jolly pictures present a biracial family that thoroughly enjoys every moment together. It’s a bit oversimplified, but no one can complain about the positive message it conveys, appropriately, to its baby and toddler audience. The other titles in the New Baby series are My New Baby (ISBN: 978-1-84643-276-7), Look at Me! (ISBN: 978-1-84643-278-1) and You and Me (ISBN: 978-1-84643-277-4). (Board book. 18 mos.-3)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-84643-275-0

Page Count: 12

Publisher: Child's Play

Review Posted Online: June 3, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2010

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