From the Fairy Science series

A solid choice for both storytimes and STEM curricula.

Like its predecessor, series opening Fairy Science (2019), this outing is an informative science book masquerading as a cute little book about a curious fairy.

Protagonist Esther is a brown-skinned, purple-pigtailed, skeptical sprite believing wholeheartedly in hypothesis and experimentation over magic and wishes. While her classmates learn spells, Esther studies the law of density, and if there’s a choice to be made between a microscope or a wand, Esther, of course, would choose the microscope. Through lively digital illustrations and an airy story, Spires gives young readers a conceptual invitation to the scientific method. Esther and her buddies ask questions, research, make and test a hypothesis, examine their results, then draw conclusions. As their schoolmates prepare for the spring magic fair, the young scientists hope to debut their findings on the wonders of condensation. But no one, including the teacher, wants to hear about silly logical theories when everyone knows that ice disappears in the spring due to the moon’s sneezes. With drollery and humor, Spires introduces scientific terms and theory. Included in the back of the book is an experiment about the water cycle that uses everyday household items, creating an interactive experience beyond the book.

A solid choice for both storytimes and STEM curricula. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 8, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-58144-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: June 2, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2020


From the Big Bright Feelings series

A heartwarming story about facing fears and acceptance.

A boy with wings learns to be himself and inspires others like him to soar, too.

Norman, a “perfectly normal” boy, never dreamed he might grow wings. Afraid of what his parents might say, he hides his new wings under a big, stuffy coat. Although the coat hides his wings from the world, Norman no longer finds joy in bathtime, playing at the park, swimming, or birthday parties. With the gentle encouragement of his parents, who see his sadness, Norman finds the courage to come out of hiding and soar. Percival (The Magic Looking Glass, 2017, etc.) depicts Norman with light skin and dark hair. Black-and-white illustrations show his father with dark skin and hair and his mother as white. The contrast of black-and-white illustrations with splashes of bright color complements the story’s theme. While Norman tries to be “normal,” the world and people around him look black and gray, but his coat stands out in yellow. Birds pop from the page in pink, green, and blue, emphasizing the joy and beauty of flying free. The final spread, full of bright color and multiracial children in flight, sets the mood for Norman’s realization on the last page that there is “no such thing as perfectly normal,” but he can be “perfectly Norman.”

A heartwarming story about facing fears and acceptance. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: May 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-68119-785-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2018


A good bet for the youngest bird-watchers.

Echoing the meter of “Mary Had a Little Lamb,” Ward uses catchy original rhymes to describe the variety of nests birds create.

Each sweet stanza is complemented by a factual, engaging description of the nesting habits of each bird. Some of the notes are intriguing, such as the fact that the hummingbird uses flexible spider web to construct its cup-shaped nest so the nest will stretch as the chicks grow. An especially endearing nesting behavior is that of the emperor penguin, who, with unbelievable patience, incubates the egg between his tummy and his feet for up to 60 days. The author clearly feels a mission to impart her extensive knowledge of birds and bird behavior to the very young, and she’s found an appealing and attractive way to accomplish this. The simple rhymes on the left page of each spread, written from the young bird’s perspective, will appeal to younger children, and the notes on the right-hand page of each spread provide more complex factual information that will help parents answer further questions and satisfy the curiosity of older children. Jenkins’ accomplished collage illustrations of common bird species—woodpecker, hummingbird, cowbird, emperor penguin, eagle, owl, wren—as well as exotics, such as flamingoes and hornbills, are characteristically naturalistic and accurate in detail.

A good bet for the youngest bird-watchers.   (author’s note, further resources) (Informational picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 18, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4424-2116-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Beach Lane/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Jan. 3, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2014

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