cover image When You Have to Wait

When You Have to Wait

Melanie Conklin, illus. by Leah Hong. Roaring Brook, $18.99 (40p) ISBN 978-1-250-81654-2

Conklin (A Perfect Mistake) and Hong (Happy Dreams, Little Bunny) compassionately limn experiences of childhood longing in an emotionally honest picture book about one of life’s truths: “Sometimes, you have to wait.” Alongside that refrain, here-and-now language describes the particular discomforts of pauses brief and extensive, including queuing for the pool (“The line is so long, and the sun is so hot”), awaiting a loved one’s return (“I need a hug right NOW”), and yearning to fit a too-big bicycle (“Your feet won’t reach the pedals,// No matter how hard you try”). Gentle gouache and crayon illustrations depict an East Asian–cued child’s relative moment in time via temporal signifiers (a full moon, a calendar). While honoring the child’s ardent desires, pages yield surprise treasures of the moment—a new friend met in line, listening to the loved one on the phone, an earthworm spotted from the existing tricycle—until, “finally,” the initial scenarios resolve. Smartly using waiting as a means of building the book’s narrative tension, the creators offer a mindful route through moments when “each second feels like forever.” Ages 4–8. Author’s agent: Elena Giovinazzo, Pippin Properties. Illustrator’s agent: Kirsten Hall. Catbird Productions. (Jan.)