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GRANDPA AND THE KINGFISHER

A lovely intergenerational appreciation of nature and life.

A grandfather teaches his grandchild about kingfishers, nature, and the cycle of life.

Massini’s lovely watercolor illustrations make the bond between the two plain to see as they row a boat on the river (the child wearing a life preserver), fish, dangle their feet from the dock, and walk along the shore, the grandfather pointing out the kingfishers and explaining what they are doing: fishing, finding a mate, digging a nest hole in the riverbank, laying and incubating the eggs, feeding the chicks. But it’s Wilson’s words that bring the lesson home as she lyrically describes the markers of each season that passes. The child’s questions lead the grandfather to point out that nothing lives forever: “Only nature goes on forever.” And when winter comes and the child asks where the kingfisher parents are, grown-ups will steel themselves for what is to come: The birds have died after passing the torch on to the next generation, and one page turn later, the child sits on the dock alone, Grandpa’s signature hat and binoculars nearby. And while sad, the child is comforted by the natural world that Grandpa so loved. What little remains of Grandpa’s hair is white along with his mustache, while the child’s is short and brown. Both are light-skinned. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A lovely intergenerational appreciation of nature and life. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 15, 2023

ISBN: 9798887770178

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Nosy Crow

Review Posted Online: May 9, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2023

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PETE THE CAT'S 12 GROOVY DAYS OF CHRISTMAS

Pete’s fans might find it groovy; anyone else has plenty of other “12 Days of Christmas” variants to choose among

Pete, the cat who couldn’t care less, celebrates Christmas with his inimitable lassitude.

If it weren’t part of the title and repeated on every other page, readers unfamiliar with Pete’s shtick might have a hard time arriving at “groovy” to describe his Christmas celebration, as the expressionless cat displays not a hint of groove in Dean’s now-trademark illustrations. Nor does Pete have a great sense of scansion: “On the first day of Christmas, / Pete gave to me… / A road trip to the sea. / GROOVY!” The cat is shown at the wheel of a yellow microbus strung with garland and lights and with a star-topped tree tied to its roof. On the second day of Christmas Pete gives “me” (here depicted as a gray squirrel who gets on the bus) “2 fuzzy gloves, and a road trip to the sea. / GROOVY!” On the third day, he gives “me” (now a white cat who joins Pete and the squirrel) “3 yummy cupcakes,” etc. The “me” mentioned in the lyrics changes from day to day and gift to gift, with “4 far-out surfboards” (a frog), “5 onion rings” (crocodile), and “6 skateboards rolling” (a yellow bird that shares its skateboards with the white cat, the squirrel, the frog, and the crocodile while Pete drives on). Gifts and animals pile on until the microbus finally arrives at the seaside and readers are told yet again that it’s all “GROOVY!”

Pete’s fans might find it groovy; anyone else has plenty of other “12 Days of Christmas” variants to choose among . (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 18, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-267527-9

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Aug. 19, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2018

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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

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