A profoundly disappointing posthumous outing from a beloved author.

BEES IN THE CITY

A breezy look at urban beekeeping.

In Paris, France, young Lionel receives a disturbing call from his hapless aunt Celine, who lives in the country: her honeybees are dying, possibly from a lack of dietary variety. In the disjointed adventure that follows, Lionel, a white boy, shares his worries with his neighbor friends Alice and Samir. While lunching on his apartment’s flower-filled balcony, Lionel realizes the honeybees might fare better in the city, where a variety of plants in window boxes and on balconies could add diversity to their diet. In a whirlwind, Lionel is off to collect signatures from his neighbors to approve the plan, a quickly jumped hurdle. The honeybees are installed on the roof and seem to thrive. In its haste to tell Lionel’s story, the book stumbles multiple times. Lionel suggests that honeybees do not fly far, but bees will fly up to 5 miles for nectar; unrealistically, honey is extracted just a few days after the sick bees arrive. The backmatter offers an odd mixture of highly specific beekeeping information and superficial facts, presenting both the laying rates of bees and a two-sentence overview of colony collapse disorder, for instance. The illustrations do not provide additional support. Celine is depicted by her hive in beekeeping hat and veil, while Lionel stands by her side bareheaded. All of the characters are depicted with the same pale-peach skin tone, from blonde Alice to dark-haired Samir.

A profoundly disappointing posthumous outing from a beloved author. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 7, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-88448-520-9

Page Count: 36

Publisher: Tilbury House

Review Posted Online: Aug. 12, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2017

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A lighthearted read that will offer comfort to young children that others too face challenges of friendship, teamwork and...

PARKER BELL AND THE SCIENCE OF FRIENDSHIP

In her debut chapter book, Platt shares the story of a young girl navigating friendships and the challenges of trying to win her school’s science triathlon.

Young Parker Bell is a curious child who loves science and aspires to match up to Mae Jemison and Jane Goodall one day. Her best friend and partner in science is coding whiz Cassie Malouf. They have been best friends since kindergarten, but Parker gets jealous when Cassie suddenly starts becoming friendly with Theo Zachary, a shy boy in their class. Parker worries that Cassie likes Theo more than her, and she fights hard to keep her friend. Matters only get worse when Cassie invites Theo to be part of their team for the science triathlon, which features a science trivia contest, an egg drop, and a presentation. In a somewhat predictable plot, Parker realizes she has a lot in common with Theo as she spends more time with him. Platt works hard to defy gender stereotypes. In addition to the girls’ STEM enthusiasm, Parker’s mom teaches phys ed, her dad owns a bakery, and Cassie’s mom teaches math. Zhai’s simple black-and-white illustrations of Parker, Cassie, and the classrooms provide a good visual aid to the story, depicting Parker and Theo as white and Cassie with dark skin and long black hair.

A lighthearted read that will offer comfort to young children that others too face challenges of friendship, teamwork and competition. (Fiction. 6-10)

Pub Date: May 21, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-328-97347-4

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Clarion Books

Review Posted Online: Feb. 17, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2019

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“It’s time to head back home,” the narrator concludes. “You’ve touched the Earth in so many ways.” Who knew it would be so...

TOUCH THE EARTH

From the Julian Lennon White Feather Flier Adventure series , Vol. 1

A pro bono Twinkie of a book invites readers to fly off in a magic plane to bring clean water to our planet’s oceans, deserts, and brown children.

Following a confusingly phrased suggestion beneath a soft-focus world map to “touch the Earth. Now touch where you live,” a shake of the volume transforms it into a plane with eyes and feathered wings that flies with the press of a flat, gray “button” painted onto the page. Pressing like buttons along the journey releases a gush of fresh water from the ground—and later, illogically, provides a filtration device that changes water “from yucky to clean”—for thirsty groups of smiling, brown-skinned people. At other stops, a tap on the button will “help irrigate the desert,” and touching floating bottles and other debris in the ocean supposedly makes it all disappear so the fish can return. The 20 children Coh places on a globe toward the end are varied of skin tone, but three of the four young saviors she plants in the flier’s cockpit as audience stand-ins are white. The closing poem isn’t so openly parochial, though it seldom rises above vague feel-good sentiments: “Love the Earth, the moon and sun. / All the children can be one.”

“It’s time to head back home,” the narrator concludes. “You’ve touched the Earth in so many ways.” Who knew it would be so easy to clean the place up and give everyone a drink? (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: April 11, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-5107-2083-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Sky Pony Press

Review Posted Online: Feb. 4, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2017

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