No tall tale, this book delivers an authentic, heartwarming story with a focus on family and togetherness

DOWN BY THE RIVER

A leisurely paced, lushly illustrated story about a boy’s first fly-fishing trip.

Straightforward yet descriptive text portrays an intergenerational excursion in which young Art embarks on his first fly-fishing trip with his angler mother and grandfather. Partly told through remembrances of Art’s mother’s first such trip, the tale emphasizes the importance of family and learning from one another. Unlike his mother, Art does not hook a fish on his first try, but his persistence pays off when he catches a beautiful brown trout, depicted dramatically on its own spread. On the final spread, Art continues this fly-fishing tradition as a grandfather himself, the white man leading his interracial family to the same waters where he learned, eager to pass along this family experience. Warm, immersive illustrations change perspective to add drama and tension, even depicting that of an osprey overhead. The illustrations are rendered in charcoal pencil with digital coloration, creating a watercolor effect. Informative, accessible backmatter will appeal to children eager to take their own turns with the rod, providing guidelines, emphasizing conservation, and depicting both men and women anglers. Endpapers display and label nearly 80 different, brightly colored flies set against a background of light brown, water-stained paper, evocative of the book’s river setting.

No tall tale, this book delivers an authentic, heartwarming story with a focus on family and togetherness . (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: March 6, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4197-2293-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: Feb. 3, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2018

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The snappy text will get toes tapping, but the information it carries is limited.

LET'S DANCE!

Dancing is one of the most universal elements of cultures the world over.

In onomatopoeic, rhyming text, Bolling encourages readers to dance in styles including folk dance, classical ballet, breakdancing, and line dancing. Read aloud, the zippy text will engage young children: “Tappity Tap / Fingers Snap,” reads the rhyme on the double-page spread for flamenco; “Jiggity-Jig / Zig-zag-zig” describes Irish step dancing. The ballet pages stereotypically include only children in dresses or tutus, but one of these dancers wears hijab. Overall, children included are racially diverse and vary in gender presentation. Diaz’s illustrations show her background in animated films; her active child dancers generally have the large-eyed sameness of cartoon characters. The endpapers, with shoes and musical instruments, could become a matching game with pages in the book. The dances depicted are described at the end, including kathak from India and kuku from Guinea, West Africa. Unfortunately, these explanations are quite rudimentary. Kathak dancers use their facial expressions extensively in addition to the “movements of their hands and their jingling feet,” as described in the book. Although today kuku is danced at all types of celebrations in several countries, it was once done after fishing, an activity acknowledged in the illustrations but not mentioned in the explanatory text.

The snappy text will get toes tapping, but the information it carries is limited. (Informational picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-63592-142-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Boyds Mills

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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A good bet for the youngest bird-watchers.

MAMA BUILT A LITTLE NEST

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. 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2014

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