Black and brown nature lovers, here’s one to read and share

READ REVIEW

HIKING DAY

Mother-daughter author-illustrator team Anne (who passed away in April 2018) and Lizzy Rockwell have crafted a quiet story that positively portrays a black family spending time in nature. While this shouldn’t be a news flash in 2018, it is.

A black family—mom, dad, and daughter—drives 20 minutes away from their suburb for a day hike up Hickory Hill, where they enjoy the flora, fauna, and autumnal changes. The higher they climb, the sparser the vegetation becomes until they reach the summit and take in the expansive views. This picture book offers a rare snapshot of a family of color spending quality family time in the woods. Since they think they are lost at one point, perhaps they have not hiked often, but this does not dampen their enthusiasm. Several animals make an appearance in the watercolor illustrations, done in a soft, mostly pastel palette, including a porcupine, birds, a deer, a chipmunk, and a toad. The young female narrator describes the woodpecker she sees as redheaded; this, too, suggests that she hasn’t done much bird-watching since the bird is a pileated woodpecker, and a kid who had grown up birding would know it by both sound and sight. Still, readers will appreciate the daughter’s delight as she chooses the trail to hike and really notices her surroundings.

 Black and brown nature lovers, here’s one to read and share . (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 25, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4814-2737-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Aladdin

Review Posted Online: June 25, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2018

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

WAITING IS NOT EASY!

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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Eggs-quisitely excellent.

THE GOOD EGG

Being a good egg can be eggs-cruciatingly stressful.

This earnest counterpart to John and Oswald’s hilarious The Bad Seed (2017) opens with a direct address from an oval-shaped saint to readers: “Oh, hello! I was just rescuing this cat. Know why? Because I’m a good egg.” Just how good is this egg? “Verrrrrry good.” Without hesitation, the bespectacled egg offers to help others with carrying groceries, painting houses, and changing tires. The good egg even tries to “keep the peace” among the other 11 eggs in its dozen, who forgo their bedtime, eat sugary cereal, and break stuff. Rotten eggs indeed! When the pressure of being good proves too much, the beleaguered egg embarks on a journey of self-care. John embeds a seed of a great idea—finding a balance between personal and social responsibility—within a rip-roaring, touching narrative. Despite his sober narrator, the author’s sense of humor remains intact thanks to some clever (and punny) wordplay. Likewise, Oswald’s digitally composed, bright artwork pops with rib-tickling close-ups and character-building moments. Both text and art complement each other perfectly. Too long alone, the protagonist heads back to its rowdy family, imparting a slice of wisdom to readers: “I’ll be good to my fellow eggs while also being good to myself.” It’s an empowering moment made all the better when this good egg returns to find a rapturous welcome from the others.

Eggs-quisitely excellent. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 12, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-286600-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Sept. 30, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2018

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