THE TREE AND THE RIVER

Look upon this work, ye mighty picture-book creators, and despair. A stunning accomplishment.

A wordless memento mori considers our fleeting human existence in the span of a single tree’s life.

Having established himself as a picture-book creator unafraid of taking the long view, Becker offers an oddly comforting look at how wars, floods, and humanity itself can pass in just a blink of an eye. For most of the book, a tree standing on a single spit of land, hugged by a river, is the focus of the story. One can gauge how much time has passed not by the tree, which ages naturally over the years, but by the civilization that grows up around it, from early settlers who build along the banks to an industrial revolution, modernity, and eventual ecological collapse. Meticulous care is taken with every detail in Becker’s pencil, gouache, and digital paint illustrations, leading young readers to try to piece the story of these peoples, ancient, modern, and futuristic, over time. Yet one is ultimately left with a sense of hope. Our world may descend into chaos on occasion, but new life is always on the horizon. With its tiny people (indeed, mostly too tiny to distinguish skin color or features) and distant views of civilization, the book brings to mind some of the best of Mitsumasa Anno’s titles, if Anno had been occasionally influenced by Blade Runner. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Look upon this work, ye mighty picture-book creators, and despair. A stunning accomplishment. (Picture book. 4-9)

Pub Date: March 14, 2023

ISBN: 978-1-5362-2329-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Nov. 15, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2022

SNOW PLACE LIKE HOME

From the Diary of an Ice Princess series

A jam-packed opener sure to satisfy lovers of the princess genre.

Ice princess Lina must navigate family and school in this early chapter read.

The family picnic is today. This is not a typical gathering, since Lina’s maternal relatives are a royal family of Windtamers who have power over the weather and live in castles floating on clouds. Lina herself is mixed race, with black hair and a tan complexion like her Asian-presenting mother’s; her Groundling father appears to be a white human. While making a grand entrance at the castle of her grandfather, the North Wind, she fails to successfully ride a gust of wind and crashes in front of her entire family. This prompts her stern grandfather to ask that Lina move in with him so he can teach her to control her powers. Desperate to avoid this, Lina and her friend Claudia, who is black, get Lina accepted at the Hilltop Science and Arts Academy. Lina’s parents allow her to go as long as she does lessons with grandpa on Saturdays. However, fitting in at a Groundling school is rough, especially when your powers start freak winter storms! With the story unfurling in diary format, bright-pink–highlighted grayscale illustrations help move the plot along. There are slight gaps in the storytelling and the pacing is occasionally uneven, but Lina is full of spunk and promotes self-acceptance.

A jam-packed opener sure to satisfy lovers of the princess genre. (Fantasy. 5-8)

Pub Date: June 25, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-35393-8

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: March 26, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2019

MAMA BUILT A LITTLE NEST

A good bet for the youngest bird-watchers.

Echoing the meter of “Mary Had a Little Lamb,” Ward uses catchy original rhymes to describe the variety of nests birds create.

Each sweet stanza is complemented by a factual, engaging description of the nesting habits of each bird. Some of the notes are intriguing, such as the fact that the hummingbird uses flexible spider web to construct its cup-shaped nest so the nest will stretch as the chicks grow. An especially endearing nesting behavior is that of the emperor penguin, who, with unbelievable patience, incubates the egg between his tummy and his feet for up to 60 days. The author clearly feels a mission to impart her extensive knowledge of birds and bird behavior to the very young, and she’s found an appealing and attractive way to accomplish this. The simple rhymes on the left page of each spread, written from the young bird’s perspective, will appeal to younger children, and the notes on the right-hand page of each spread provide more complex factual information that will help parents answer further questions and satisfy the curiosity of older children. Jenkins’ accomplished collage illustrations of common bird species—woodpecker, hummingbird, cowbird, emperor penguin, eagle, owl, wren—as well as exotics, such as flamingoes and hornbills, are characteristically naturalistic and accurate in detail.

A good bet for the youngest bird-watchers.   (author’s note, further resources) (Informational picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 18, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4424-2116-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Beach Lane/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Jan. 3, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2014

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