In a fond salute, Lewin (Red Legs, p. 588, etc.) introduces readers to his favorite Chinese take-out place. It is a mood piece, striving for ambience rather than story line, and it succeeds admirably. The narrator is a young Chinese boy who takes readers through a day in his family’s Chinese restaurant, beginning with his own tour of duty carrying in supplies. A slew of uncles staffs the kitchen, chopping vegetables and meats, prepping for the lunchtime onslaught. “Chop! Chop! Chop! Dice and slice. Trim and dice. Slice and shred. Faster. Faster.” Lewin’s watercolors work wonders with the tight but electric bustle of the men as they respond to the gathering mayhem of lunch orders. Filling the pages with activity, he leaves borders of space for the text, which reflects the varying colors of the food and interior lights when the pictures are inside and are in black when the ordinary outside world is the scene. Then there are the regulars (including the handsome illustrator), whose orders are shouted into the kitchen without them even having to open their mouths. All day, the little boy pitches in to help, folding menus, packing take-out bags, and passing along orders. In a wonderfully abrupt turn, Lewin closes the long day at the restaurant with the narrator enjoying his favorite food—a slice of pizza. Finally, Lewin himself prepares to eat his favorite dish and offers the recipe, except for the “special secret sauce.” Everyone loves take-out food. And everyone ought to love this, from its menu on the endpapers to the aromas that fairly rise off the page. Readers won’t just drink in its transporting atmosphere, but will soon be on their way to their nearest Chinese community to taste the very air as well as the food. (Picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-688-16026-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2001

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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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An honest look at motherhood in the contemporary era and a sweet tribute to the bond between mother and child.


Grammy-winning, multiplatinum singer/songwriter Rowland teams up with California teacher McKay to celebrate busy moms.

This picture book highlights a mother’s frequent longing to be with her child when life’s demands pull them apart. The story takes us through a busy Black mom’s week: She goes to work (at a construction site where she appears to be an engineer), works from home on her son’s sick day, takes him to a museum, and shares domestic duties with her Black male partner, who is a nurse. She encounters many bumps in the road that will be familiar to working parents. Each day, she gently reassures her son with a lyrical refrain: “Always with you, / Always with me, / Mommy and child / Together we’ll be.” This tender story, narrated in the voice of a mother addressing her child, pulls at the heartstrings. Liem’s digital artwork uses a warm palette and has a calming quality. The characters’ body language and heartfelt facial expressions are spot-on. This book will resonate with any mom who knows the heartache of having to say goodbye to their child or who has faced the teary-eyed frustration of a youngster experiencing separation anxiety. Young readers, on the other hand, will find solace in the reassuring narrative. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

An honest look at motherhood in the contemporary era and a sweet tribute to the bond between mother and child. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: April 26, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-46551-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2022

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