An engaging story about rescuing a tree and reconstructing Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria.



Orenstein-Cardona explores the impact of Hurricane Maria through the story of a stately banyan tree.

The tree (in Spanish, jagüey blanco) is well known, providing shade by the San Juan Gate, which surrounds the old city. When the hurricane hits in September 2017, the tree feels he will survive. “ ‘I am ready,’ said the tree, digging his roots deeper into the rich Caribbean soil.” But this storm is worse than anything he and the people of Puerto Rico have ever experienced, and it almost kills the tree. Finally, the large tree cracks, and his large crown falls into the nearby ocean. His stump and roots remain, but in language that treats the tree in human terms “he drifted between this world and the next.” An unnamed girl, with dark hair and brown skin, discovers the tree’s plight and brings help. In “Behind the Story,” the author discusses the true story that inspired this tale. Some may object to the anthropomorphizing of the tree, but this meaningful story evades didacticism and links the tree’s resilience with the fortitude of Puerto Ricans determined to rebuild their lives. People are pictured with different skin tones, reflecting the diversity of Puerto Rico. Observant children will notice the young girl who helps the tree, pictured with her family, in many of the realistic illustrations, which picture the Caribbean island before and after the intense storm. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

An engaging story about rescuing a tree and reconstructing Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria. (author’s note) (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 23, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-5064-8409-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Beaming Books

Review Posted Online: May 25, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2022

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Amusing but a little off tempo.


It’s important to hit all the right notes.

A tan-skinned musical composer with puffy black hair is busy at work on his next musical masterpiece when Half Note, a music symbol denoting two beats, feels unappreciated. Half Note is jealous of the more commonly used Quarter Note (one beat) and Eighth Note. Although the other musical symbols attempt to calm and comfort Half Note, she decides to run away. The next day, Composer needs Half Note and panics when he realizes that she’s gone. The other notes and musical symbols try to find her, but it’s only when they try to play her favorite song, “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star,” without her—with terrible results—that she comes running back. The story’s humor—which is largely based on “dad joke” puns—is completely dependent on readers’ musical knowledge. The artwork, a mix of acrylic and colored pencil, attempts to add some allegrezza to the piece, and while it’s not unsuccessful, it’s facing an uphill battle. Music teachers and musically minded caregivers may find some value in this story, but it will likely be too specialized for general readers. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Amusing but a little off tempo. (glossary) (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: March 14, 2023

ISBN: 978-1-64567-631-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Page Street

Review Posted Online: Dec. 24, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2023

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A lesson that never grows old, enacted with verve by two favorite friends


From the Elephant & Piggie series

Gerald the elephant learns a truth familiar to every preschooler—heck, every human: “Waiting is not easy!”

When Piggie cartwheels up to Gerald announcing that she has a surprise for him, Gerald is less than pleased to learn that the “surprise is a surprise.” Gerald pumps Piggie for information (it’s big, it’s pretty, and they can share it), but Piggie holds fast on this basic principle: Gerald will have to wait. Gerald lets out an almighty “GROAN!” Variations on this basic exchange occur throughout the day; Gerald pleads, Piggie insists they must wait; Gerald groans. As the day turns to twilight (signaled by the backgrounds that darken from mauve to gray to charcoal), Gerald gets grumpy. “WE HAVE WASTED THE WHOLE DAY!…And for WHAT!?” Piggie then gestures up to the Milky Way, which an awed Gerald acknowledges “was worth the wait.” Willems relies even more than usual on the slightest of changes in posture, layout and typography, as two waiting figures can’t help but be pretty static. At one point, Piggie assumes the lotus position, infuriating Gerald. Most amusingly, Gerald’s elephantine groans assume weighty physicality in spread-filling speech bubbles that knock Piggie to the ground. And the spectacular, photo-collaged images of the Milky Way that dwarf the two friends makes it clear that it was indeed worth the wait.

A lesson that never grows old, enacted with verve by two favorite friends . (Early reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 4, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4231-9957-1

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Nov. 5, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2014

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