ASTRONAUT TRAINING

A fun read, though its narrative may gratify adults more than children.

Enthusiastic Astrid prepares to be an astronaut while her father chases after her.

Organic lines and jewel tones warmly depict Astrid building spaceships, making astronaut food, and practicing floating in space. She counts stars to fall asleep, then finds herself on a planet populated by giant ETs. They’re too big for her to build them spaceships, so she blasts off to a planet that has tiny aliens instead. No success there either. In an arresting full-bleed illustration, starry sky blends into Astrid’s celestial bedspread as she wakes up back on Earth. Finally, she asks her dad for help, and he’s only too happy to assist her building, cooking, floating, and star-counting. In another striking double-page spread depicting them stargazing together, even her dad’s fuzzy sweater seems palpable. Astrid’s turtle pal appears frequently, never in its terrarium. Astrid, her father, and her discreetly pictured absent mother have brown skin and dark hair. One endmatter page offers informational paragraphs on space shuttles, astronaut food, and gravity, but this book aims to inspire more than educate. It’s confusing for the text to refer to rocket boosters and fuel tanks next to an illustrated retro-stylized spaceship that has neither. It’s downright incorrect to say that orbits happen “because of the way gravity works in space”; gravity works the same way in space as it does on Earth. (This book was reviewed digitally with 8.5-by-22-inch double-page spreads viewed at 91% of actual size.)

A fun read, though its narrative may gratify adults more than children. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: March 16, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-63592-288-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Boyds Mills

Review Posted Online: Jan. 12, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2021

THERE'S A ROCK CONCERT IN MY BEDROOM

Nice enough but not worth repeat reads.

Emma deals with jitters before playing the guitar in the school talent show.

Pop musician Kevin Jonas and his wife, Danielle, put performance at the center of their picture-book debut. When Emma is intimidated by her very talented friends, the encouragement of her younger sister, Bella, and the support of her family help her to shine her own light. The story is straightforward and the moral familiar: Draw strength from your family and within to overcome your fears. Employing the performance-anxiety trope that’s been written many times over, the book plods along predictably—there’s nothing really new or surprising here. Dawson’s full-color digital illustrations center a White-presenting family along with Emma’s three friends of color: Jamila has tanned skin and wears a hijab; Wendy has dark brown skin and Afro puffs; and Luis has medium brown skin. Emma’s expressive eyes and face are the real draw of the artwork—from worry to embarrassment to joy, it’s clear what she’s feeling. A standout double-page spread depicts Emma’s talent show performance, with a rainbow swirl of music erupting from an amp and Emma rocking a glam outfit and electric guitar. Overall, the book reads pretty plainly, buoyed largely by the artwork. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Nice enough but not worth repeat reads. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: March 29, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-35207-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Razorbill/Penguin

Review Posted Online: Feb. 8, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2022

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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