Readers will roll up for repeats, and not just because of the name on the cover.


Hanging out with grandad turns out to be anything but boring after he pulls out a very special compass and takes everyone on a magical mystery tour.

A “gray and drizzly” day takes a series of exciting turns for Lucy, Tom, Em, and Bob—a racially diverse quartet of sibs (or maybe cousins) in Durst’s fluid, informal cartoon scenes—after grizzled Grandude strides into the room. He has a compass that transports him and the “Chillers” with a “zing, bang, sizzle” to a beach, a desert, and a Swiss mountainside. Like the economical text, which aside from a quick refrain is all in prose, experiences at each stop take on a certain pattern as the children thrice enjoy their new setting but then need a quick spin of the compass to escape a flood of pinchy red crabs, mount horses but narrowly avoid a bison stampede, then abandon a picnic to clamber atop an obliging flying cow when an avalanche threatens. Despite the allusive title (and the “Grandude” moniker, which McCartney admits he cribbed from his own grandkids) there’s no sign of the self-absorption that often rides celebrity picture books. Ultimately, the genial tour guide, who is white but otherwise looks nothing like the author and even plays guitar right-handed, spins the compass one final time to deliver the weary Chillers back home.

Readers will roll up for repeats, and not just because of the name on the cover. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-64867-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Sept. 18, 2019

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A nicely inventive little morality “tail” for newly independent readers.


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.


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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