A beautifully illustrated cat’s-eye view of a quiet bedtime on a farm.

NOW THAT NIGHT IS NEAR

A Swedish Goodnight Moon.

As shadows lengthen and day concludes, a dark-skinned child falls asleep while the narrator takes readers from the bedroom to the yard of this rural farmhouse, then to the woods, to a nearby lake, and finally to a nocturnal, moonlit sky view of the whole area. The rhythmic text features a rhyming refrain: “Everyone is going to sleep, now that night is near. / Even cats are going to sleep, as bedtime’s nearly here.” Most of that rings true, but the part about the cats will keep readers guessing since the black cat that first appears on the title page and then perched in the child’s windowsill roams all the places the narrator mentions—not sleeping at all. Along the cat’s path, readers see cows, horses, pigs, and sheep, then wild animals including a fox family, two moose, a snake, and sleeping badgers. Notably, many of the outdoor animals have stuffed-toy duplicates in the child’s bedroom, a hint that the cat’s journey could be real or imagined. Young readers who enjoy the soporific spell of Goodnight Moon will appreciate this invitation to sleep, translated from the Swedish. Törnqvist’s hazy, mostly earth-toned illustrations appropriately reflect the muted colors of dusk, and her detailed attention to the flora and fauna of the area will give readers plenty to find, name, count, and discuss. The biracial family (the mom has brown skin, and the dad presents White) makes this an inclusive story that counters prevailing stereotypes of rural farm families.

A beautifully illustrated cat’s-eye view of a quiet bedtime on a farm.   (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: May 18, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-78250-675-1

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Floris

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2021

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Renata’s wren encounter proves magical, one most children could only wish to experience outside of this lovely story.

CARPENTER'S HELPER

A home-renovation project is interrupted by a family of wrens, allowing a young girl an up-close glimpse of nature.

Renata and her father enjoy working on upgrading their bathroom, installing a clawfoot bathtub, and cutting a space for a new window. One warm night, after Papi leaves the window space open, two wrens begin making a nest in the bathroom. Rather than seeing it as an unfortunate delay of their project, Renata and Papi decide to let the avian carpenters continue their work. Renata witnesses the birth of four chicks as their rosy eggs split open “like coats that are suddenly too small.” Renata finds at a crucial moment that she can help the chicks learn to fly, even with the bittersweet knowledge that it will only hasten their exits from her life. Rosen uses lively language and well-chosen details to move the story of the baby birds forward. The text suggests the strong bond built by this Afro-Latinx father and daughter with their ongoing project without needing to point it out explicitly, a light touch in a picture book full of delicate, well-drawn moments and precise wording. Garoche’s drawings are impressively detailed, from the nest’s many small bits to the developing first feathers on the chicks and the wall smudges and exposed wiring of the renovation. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10-by-20-inch double-page spreads viewed at actual size.)

Renata’s wren encounter proves magical, one most children could only wish to experience outside of this lovely story. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: March 16, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-12320-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Schwartz & Wade/Random

Review Posted Online: Jan. 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2021

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Roller-coaster enthusiasts or not, children will eagerly join our intrepid hero on this entertaining ride.

THE PIGEON WILL RIDE THE ROLLER COASTER!

The Pigeon is on an emotional—and physical—roller coaster.

Since learning about the existence of roller coasters, he’s become giddy with excitement. The Pigeon prepares mentally: He’ll need a ticket and “exemplary patience” to wait in line. He envisions zooming up and down and careening through dizzying turns and loops. Then, he imagines his emotions afterward: exhilaration, post-ride blues, pride at having accomplished such a feat, and enthusiasm at the prospect of riding again. (He’ll also feel dizzy and nauseous.) All this before the Pigeon ever sets claw on an actual coaster. So…will he really try it? Are roller coasters fun? When the moment comes, everything seems to go according to plan: waiting in line, settling into the little car, THEN—off he goes! Though the ride itself isn’t quite what the Pigeon expected, it will delight readers. Wearing his feelings on his wing and speaking directly to the audience in first person, the Pigeon describes realistic thoughts and emotions about waiting and guessing about the unknown—common childhood experiences. No sentiment is misplaced; kids will relate to Pigeon’s eagerness and apprehension. The ending falls somewhat flat, but the whole humorous point is that an underwhelming adventure can still be thrilling enough to warrant repeating. Willems’ trademark droll illustrations will have readers giggling. The roller-coaster attendant is light-skinned. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Roller-coaster enthusiasts or not, children will eagerly join our intrepid hero on this entertaining ride. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 6, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-4549-4686-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Union Square Kids

Review Posted Online: June 8, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2022

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