Read for a sweet story about the creative process (but not for information about Neruda).

READ REVIEW

ODE TO AN ONION

PABLO NERUDA & HIS MUSE

The author imagines the day when the Chilean poet Pablo Neruda was inspired to write an ode to an onion.

As the book starts, a man is writing at his desk. His name is Pablo, and he is writing a long and sad poem, which makes him feel gloomy. This gloom will permeate much of his outlook that day. Soon he’s off to lunch with his friend Matilde. To dispel the glum mood, Matilde invites Pablo into the garden to collect what they need for lunch. For every happy and upbeat expression Matilde utters about the flowers and vegetables in the garden, Pablo responds with a sad comment. Back in the kitchen, when Pablo cuts into an onion, “all he saw through his tears was a lowly vegetable. But then he noticed how the sunlight shone through the onion’s layers.” He thanks Matilde for reminding him there is also happiness in the world. And thus, Pablo is inspired to write an ode to an onion. Sala’s exuberant illustrations are playful and colorful, depicting both Pablo and Matilde with pale skin. The backmatter includes a very brief account of the famous Nobel Prize winner’s life along with the poem with its English translation. Unfortunately, for most children in the United States not familiar with Neruda, his importance in 20th-century Spanish literature will not be apparent. Read along with Pablo Neruda: Poet of the People, by Monica Brown and illustrated by Julie Paschkis (2011).

Read for a sweet story about the creative process (but not for information about Neruda). (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 11, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-944903-34-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Cameron + Company

Review Posted Online: July 30, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2018

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For places where the first-grade shelves are particularly thin.

ON THE FIRST DAY OF FIRST GRADE

The traditional song “The Twelve Days of Christmas” gets a school makeover as readers follow a cheery narrator through the first 12 days of first grade.

“On the first day of first grade / I had fun right away // laughing and learning all day!” In these first two spreads, Jennings shows the child, who has brown skin and a cloud of dark-brown hair, entering the schoolyard with a diverse array of classmates and settling in. In the backgrounds, caregivers, including a woman in hijab, stand at the fence and kids hang things on hooks in the back of the room. Each new day sees the child and their friends enjoying new things, previous days’ activities repeated in the verses each time so that those listening will soon be chiming in. The child helps in the classroom, checks out books from the library, plants seeds, practices telling time and counting money, leads the line, performs in a play, shows off a picture of their pet bunny, and does activities in gym, music, and art classes. The Photoshop-and-watercolor illustrations portray adorable and engaged kids having fun while learning with friends. But while the song and topic are the same, this doesn’t come close to touching either the hysterical visuals or great rhythm of Deborah Lee Rose and Carey Armstong-Ellis’ The Twelve Days of Kindergarten (2003).

For places where the first-grade shelves are particularly thin. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: June 19, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-266851-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2018

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The combination of haiku, attractive illustrations, and interesting information makes this a keeper.

MORNING, SUNSHINE!

This picture book combines poetry with facts about nature.

Using the arrival of morning as its focus and theme, this nonfiction book provides information about animal, insect, and bird life along with some general natural science. From birds’ singing in the morning through moths’ finding quiet spots to rest as the sun rises to the daily routines of rabbits, foxes, and other animals, readers will discover fascinating facts about Earth’s creatures. Combining entertainment and information, this book not only features the lives of animals, but it also explains why the sky changes color throughout the day and how the Earth’s rotation creates the phenomena of day and night. Each double-page spread highlights a different creature or natural phenomenon; there’s a haiku on verso and on recto, a moderately sized paragraph with both commonly known and more unusual facts. Highlighted words stand out as obvious vocabulary builders; readers can learn their meanings in the appended glossary. The illustrations are large-scale and vivid, with the palette lightening over the course of the book as morning takes hold. Illustrations are graphically simple, with cheerful cartoon animals contributing to the upbeat mood. An added bonus is a page at the back encouraging readers to write their own nature haiku.

The combination of haiku, attractive illustrations, and interesting information makes this a keeper. (Informational picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: March 24, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-62317-385-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: North Atlantic

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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