Sweet if not groundbreaking—and more to the point, sadly, still needed.

PAPA, DADDY, & RILEY

A little girl with two dads confronts homophobia.

When Riley’s parents drop her off at school, she calls, “I love you, Papa and Daddy,” as she waves goodbye. This prompts a classmate named Olive to challenge her. “One mom and one dad make a baby, and that makes a family,” Olive avers. “So which one is the real dad?” Holzwarth’s informal, friendly painting shows Riley looking hurt and confused, and as the day goes on, she thinks about her “belly mommy who gave birth” to her and about how she shares qualities with both of her dads, with black hair like Daddy’s and freckles like Papa’s. (Illustrations depict Riley, Daddy, and Riley’s belly mommy as people of color with brown skin and dark, wavy hair while redheaded Papa presents white.) When she goes home, Riley’s parents notice she is upset, and she shares what happened at school. Daddy and Papa comfort her and affirm that their family constellation is just one of many diverse possibilities, and a cluster of vignettes depicts a range of configurations. “But what makes a family a family, if every family is so different?” she asks. “LOVE” is the immediate answer, underscored by an illustration of the trio in a group hug, surrounded by bright, blooming flowers.

Sweet if not groundbreaking—and more to the point, sadly, still needed. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: May 5, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4338-3239-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Magination/American Psychological Association

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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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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A sweet reminder to pause and ponder life’s everyday wonders.

TISHA AND THE BLOSSOMS

A young girl models mindfulness as she savors each moment.

This charming and vibrant picture book opens in Tisha’s backyard, where she is reaching skyward as falling blossoms float toward her. Her joy and anticipation are disrupted by a series of “hurry up” commands from those around her, who prod her to rush for the school bus, attend an assembly, and make sure that she doesn’t miss lunch. The externally imposed directions conflict with Tisha’s natural curiosity, which compels her not only to “listen to the sounds” and to count the spots on a ladybug she finds during recess, but also to create connections between a book she finds about space and the space shuttle she imagines but cannot finish drawing because “it’s time to put the crayons away.” When Tisha requests “a little slowdown,” she and Mommy decide to walk home and play “How Many?” along the way; they also snuggle on a park bench and name all the pigeons. What began as a harried day ends on an idyllic note with a family picnic under flowering trees; when the wind blows, Tisha can catch a blossom at last. Artful and striking illustrations produce a multitude of visual textures that delineate individual blooms, sketch Tisha’s neighborhood, render colorful yet subtle details of characters and clothing, and deliver painterly impressions. Tisha and her family are tan-skinned with dark hair; her classmates are diverse. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A sweet reminder to pause and ponder life’s everyday wonders. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: May 17, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-5362-2198-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: April 13, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2022

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