The Jones Family Express

By Kirkus Reviews

Steptoe makes his authorial debut in this engaging story about a boy’s special relationship with his aunt. Every summer, Aunt Carolyn goes traveling. Now she’s returning for the family’s annual block party and Steven searches for a gift to welcome her home. Throughout, he frames text as if in a postcard or letter and set against a backdrop of his signature cut-paper and mixed-media collage. In the opening spread, photographs and postcards are scattered about on the left, the boy sits with snapshots pulled from the box beside him, all from his aunt’s travels. As the tale unfolds, family members and neighborhood folks are introduced, including Steven’s grandmother, with whom he lives and Jamaican-born shopkeeper Ruby, whose store comes alive with colorful fabric accents and cut-out photos of beaded necklaces, amber stones, and African art. His characters’ faces infuse the compositions with an unexpected realism. In the end, Steven surprises Aunt Carolyn with a gift that comes straight from the heart. And she, in turn, surprises Steven with a gift of her own. A promising new direction for Steptoe.