An excellent, child-friendly introduction to a global issue.



This picture-book biography of Jadav Payeng, hailed as “the forest man of India,” details his effort to single-handedly reforest his river island home.

In the opening pages of the book, 14-year-old Payeng is distraught by the destruction that deforestation and erosion are causing in his community, an island on the mighty Brahmaputra River in northeastern India. Every day after taking care of his chores, he plants trees on a sandbar laid bare by erosion. For over 35 years he does this, planting first bamboo trees and then other species. Today, Molai Forest is a lush woodland that is no longer desolate: It is home to elephants, rhinoceroses, deer, wild boars, vultures, and tigers. Widdowson’s simple, brightly colored art unfolds as the text does, showcasing stark, eroded shorelines and stranded animals in the opening pages, then verdant coastal forests and smiling animals at the book’s close. Additional backmatter details Payeng’s continued commitment to the revitalization of this fragile ecosystem along with further biographical information, such as his receiving one of India’s highest civilian awards, the Padma Shri. This is the second such picture book about Payeng, following The Boy Who Grew a Forest, by Sophia Gholz and illustrated by Kayla Harren (2019). Payeng is a member of the Mishing, a marginalized tribal community in India; as climate change greatly affects Indigenous and vulnerable communities, this coverage is both welcome and necessary.

An excellent, child-friendly introduction to a global issue. (fast facts, glossary, further reading) (Picture book/biography. 5-8)

Pub Date: April 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4867-1816-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Flowerpot Press

Review Posted Online: Dec. 18, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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Self-serving to be sure but also chock-full of worthy values and sentiments.


The junior senator from California introduces family and friends as everyday superheroes.

The endpapers are covered with cascades of, mostly, early childhood snapshots (“This is me contemplating the future”—caregivers of toddlers will recognize that abstracted look). In between, Harris introduces heroes in her life who have shaped her character: her mom and dad, whose superpowers were, respectively, to make her feel special and brave; an older neighbor known for her kindness; grandparents in India and Jamaica who “[stood] up for what’s right” (albeit in unspecified ways); other relatives and a teacher who opened her awareness to a wider world; and finally iconic figures such as Thurgood Marshall and Constance Baker Motley who “protected people by using the power of words and ideas” and whose examples inspired her to become a lawyer. “Heroes are…YOU!” she concludes, closing with a bulleted Hero Code and a timeline of her legal and political career that ends with her 2017 swearing-in as senator. In group scenes, some of the figures in the bright, simplistic digital illustrations have Asian features, some are in wheelchairs, nearly all are people of color. Almost all are smiling or grinning. Roe provides everyone identified as a role model with a cape and poses the author, who is seen at different ages wearing an identifying heart pin or decoration, next to each.

Self-serving to be sure but also chock-full of worthy values and sentiments. (Picture book/memoir. 5-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-984837-49-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: Jan. 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2019

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Sage, soothing ideas for a busy, loud, sometimes-divisive world.


In an inviting picture book, Chelsea and Hillary Clinton share personal revelations on how gardening with a grandmother, a mother, and children shapes and nurtures a love and respect for nature, beauty, and a general philosophy for life.

Grandma Dorothy, the former senator, secretary of state, and presidential candidate’s mother, loved gardens, appreciating the multiple benefits they yielded for herself and her family. The Clinton women reminisce about their beloved forebear and all she taught them in a color-coded, alternating text, blue for Chelsea and green for Hillary. Via brief yet explicit remembrances, they share what they learned, observed, and most of all enjoyed in gardens with her. Each double-page spread culminates in a declarative statement set in italicized red text invoking Dorothy’s wise words. Gardens can be many things: places for celebration, discovery and learning, vehicles for teaching responsibility in creating beauty, home to wildlife large and small, a place to share stories and develop memories. Though operating from very personal experience rooted in class privilege, the mother-daughter duo mostly succeeds in imparting a universally significant message: Whether visiting a public garden or working in the backyard, generations can cultivate a lasting bond. Lemniscates uses an appropriately floral palette to evoke the gardens explored by these three white women. A Spanish edition, Los jardines de la abuela, publishes simultaneously; Teresa Mlawer’s translation is fluid and pleasing, in at least one case improving on the original.

Sage, soothing ideas for a busy, loud, sometimes-divisive world. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: March 31, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-11535-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: Dec. 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2020

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