Children will best appreciate this nostalgic journey when accompanied by a doting loved one

DON'T CALL ME GRANDMA

Scary grandmas are always called “grandMOTHER,” especially if they are 96-year-old great-grandmothers who have “chocolaty brown” skin and are named Nell and sometimes growl into their mirrors.

This little girl’s great-grandmother is glamorous and has wigs, earrings, and “bottles and bottles and bottles of perfume.” Nelson’s young protagonist is mesmerized by her great-grandmother’s rituals, from posing in her bathing suit on the beach to applying ruby red lipstick. Even though her great-grandmother is old, the young girl knows she is “not worn out.” Nell, who never hugs or kisses, still deigns to share beauty tips and stories of long ago. Zunon’s mixed-media illustrations of paper collage, pastel, and watercolor lend warmth to this tender story of an aging dragon of a diva and her great-grandchild. The facial expressions span the emotional gamut from pique to sorrow to haughtiness and are all spot-on. When Nell reminisces, vague watercolor impressions evoke the perfect tone of wistfulness. Black-and-white photo reproductions accompany brief recollections of the civil rights movement. But the sterling moment shines at the very end of the story when the grandchild steals a kiss with no remorse. “Even asleep, Great-Grandmother Nell is scary. But I like her that way. I give her a little hug. She smells like peaches. I kiss my grandma. // She won’t know.”

Children will best appreciate this nostalgic journey when accompanied by a doting loved one . (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4677-4208-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Carolrhoda

Review Posted Online: Nov. 11, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2015

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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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