A unique read-aloud that blends world cultures, poetic form, and natural splendor.


A pastoral panorama of bucolic settings, spare verse, and multicultural depictions of rain in this Swedish import.

Whether drops of water, flakes of snow, cherry-blossom petals, or dripping tendrils of moss, rains can nourish life, extinguish fires, and offer steady percussion for a locomotive musical interlude. On each rainy spread, life happens in haiku, with all its cultural variety and complexity: A crane observes two children resolving a quarrel, a goatherd wiggles a loose tooth while surveying the flock, a lighthouse keeper discovers an unmoored boat as puffins glide by, rangers monitor a dying forest fire while creatures scurry away, and travelers with llamas climb a steep hillside, stopping for a beetle in their path. Visual details encourage readers to learn more about the countries of origin of the peoples and animals depicted throughout. A short note on the copyright page explains haiku, especially the role of nature in the classic form. While these poems do not strictly follow all the characteristics of haiku, they do evoke different moods, such as the gathering darkness of a crocodile swamp. They also break stereotypes by juxtaposing technology and rural life—a cellphone rings amid a group of bareback riders galloping across a steppe. Most of all, they invite readers to pore over each colorful, expressive illustration to discover visual clues contained in the spare verse.

A unique read-aloud that blends world cultures, poetic form, and natural splendor. (Picture book/poetry. 5-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 9, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-8028-5507-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Eerdmans

Review Posted Online: Aug. 13, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2018

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Informative yet optimistic, this cri du coeur from Planet Awesome deserves wide attention.


From the Our Universe series , Vol. 6

The sixth in McAnulty’s Our Universe series focuses on Earth’s human-caused problems, offering some family-level activities for mitigation.

Vivaciously narrated by “Planet Awesome,” the text establishes facts about how Earth’s location with regard to the sun allows life to flourish, the roles of the ocean and atmosphere, and the distinctions between weather and climate. McAnulty clearly explains how people have accelerated climate change “because so many human things need energy.” Soft-pedaling, she avoids overt indictment of fossil fuels: “Sometimes energy leads to dirty water, dirty land, and dirty air.” Dire changes are afoot: “Some land is flooding. Other land is too dry—and hot. YIKES! Not good.” “And when I’m in trouble, Earthlings are in trouble, too.” Litchfield’s engaging art adds important visual information where the perky text falls short. On one spread, a factory complex spews greenhouse gases in three plumes, each identified by the chemical symbols for carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide. Throughout, planet Earth is appealingly represented with animated facial features and arms—one green, one blue. The palette brightens and darkens in sync with the text’s respective messages of hope and alarm. Final pages introduce alternative energy sources—wind, hydro, solar, and “human power—that’s from your own two feet.” Lastly, Earth provides excellent ideas for hyperlocal change, from buying less new stuff to planting trees. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Informative yet optimistic, this cri du coeur from Planet Awesome deserves wide attention. (author’s note, numerical facts, atmospheric facts, ideas for action, sources) (Informational picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: April 5, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-250-78249-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: April 26, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2022

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An arguable error of omission and definite errors of commission sink this otherwise attractive effort.


From the Amazing Animals series

A look at the unique ways that 11 globe-spanning animal species construct their homes.

Each creature garners two double-page spreads, which Cherrix enlivens with compelling and at-times jaw-dropping facts. The trapdoor spider constructs a hidden burrow door from spider silk. Sticky threads, fanning from the entrance, vibrate “like a silent doorbell” when walked upon by unwitting insect prey. Prairie dogs expertly dig communal burrows with designated chambers for “sleeping, eating, and pooping.” The largest recorded “town” occupied “25,000 miles and housed as many as 400 million prairie dogs!” Female ants are “industrious insects” who can remove more than a ton of dirt from their colony in a year. Cathedral termites use dirt and saliva to construct solar-cooled towers 30 feet high. Sasaki’s lively pictures borrow stylistically from the animal compendiums of mid-20th-century children’s lit; endpapers and display type elegantly suggest the blues of cyanotypes and architectural blueprints. Jarringly, the lead spread cheerfully extols the prowess of the corals of the Great Barrier Reef, “the world’s largest living structure,” while ignoring its accelerating, human-abetted destruction. Calamitously, the honeybee hive is incorrectly depicted as a paper-wasps’ nest, and the text falsely states that chewed beeswax “hardens into glue to shape the hive.” (This book was reviewed digitally.)

An arguable error of omission and definite errors of commission sink this otherwise attractive effort. (selected sources) (Informational picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 7, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5344-5625-9

Page Count: 56

Publisher: Beach Lane/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 5, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2021

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