Adult companions of young explorers will find in Sayre's latest nature study an ideal vehicle for early STEAM curricula and...

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BEST IN SNOW

From the Weather Walks series

This striking photo essay engages curious readers as the world of snow is revealed in all of its frigid manifestations.

Be it a shivering, huddled squirrel or a cardinal posing as a vermilion exclamation point within a maze of snow-laden branches, the frost-flecked forest creatures gazing forth from Sayre's compelling compositions contrast perfectly with the stark descriptions. “A freeze. / A breeze. / A cloud. / It snows.” The economically precise language entices and beguiles in a rhyming progression that accompanies a series of photos that range from dark gray clouds to drifting snowflakes to a brittle pane of ice fractals. The photos are stunning. Two red-winged blackbirds are captured in midair, about to land on a feeder; snowflakes on a red squirrel’s coat stand out in a double-page–dominating close-up; individual drops of water are captured melting from ice-encrusted fir needles. Stealthily introduced science concepts unfurl amid a visual symphony of meteorological splendor. The appended science facts perfectly accompany each line of poetry reproduced from the body of the text, harmoniously blending the author’s twin disciplines of science and creative writing. A lesson-enriching bibliography is also provided.

Adult companions of young explorers will find in Sayre's latest nature study an ideal vehicle for early STEAM curricula and activities at home or in school. (Informational picture book. 3-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 11, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4814-5916-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Beach Lane/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 20, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2016

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Whimsy, intelligence, and a subtle narrative thread make this rise to the top of a growing list of self-love titles.

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YOU MATTER

Employing a cast of diverse children reminiscent of that depicted in Another (2019), Robinson shows that every living entity has value.

After opening endpapers that depict an aerial view of a busy playground, the perspective shifts to a black child, ponytails tied with beaded elastics, peering into a microscope. So begins an exercise in perspective. From those bits of green life under the lens readers move to “Those who swim with the tide / and those who don’t.” They observe a “pest”—a mosquito biting a dinosaur, a “really gassy” planet, and a dog whose walker—a child in a pink hijab—has lost hold of the leash. Periodically, the examples are validated with the titular refrain. Textured paint strokes and collage elements contrast with uncluttered backgrounds that move from white to black to white. The black pages in the middle portion foreground scenes in space, including a black astronaut viewing Earth; the astronaut is holding an image of another black youngster who appears on the next spread flying a toy rocket and looking lonely. There are many such visual connections, creating emotional interest and invitations for conversation. The story’s conclusion spins full circle, repeating opening sentences with new scenarios. From the microscopic to the cosmic, word and image illuminate the message without a whiff of didacticism.

Whimsy, intelligence, and a subtle narrative thread make this rise to the top of a growing list of self-love titles. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5344-2169-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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Plotless and pointless, the book clearly exists only because its celebrity author wrote it.

YOUR BABY'S FIRST WORD WILL BE DADA

A succession of animal dads do their best to teach their young to say “Dada” in this picture-book vehicle for Fallon.

A grumpy bull says, “DADA!”; his calf moos back. A sad-looking ram insists, “DADA!”; his lamb baas back. A duck, a bee, a dog, a rabbit, a cat, a mouse, a donkey, a pig, a frog, a rooster, and a horse all fail similarly, spread by spread. A final two-spread sequence finds all of the animals arrayed across the pages, dads on the verso and children on the recto. All the text prior to this point has been either iterations of “Dada” or animal sounds in dialogue bubbles; here, narrative text states, “Now everybody get in line, let’s say it together one more time….” Upon the turn of the page, the animal dads gaze round-eyed as their young across the gutter all cry, “DADA!” (except the duckling, who says, “quack”). Ordóñez's illustrations have a bland, digital look, compositions hardly varying with the characters, although the pastel-colored backgrounds change. The punch line fails from a design standpoint, as the sudden, single-bubble chorus of “DADA” appears to be emanating from background features rather than the baby animals’ mouths (only some of which, on close inspection, appear to be open). It also fails to be funny.

Plotless and pointless, the book clearly exists only because its celebrity author wrote it. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: June 9, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-250-00934-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Review Posted Online: April 15, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2015

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