Offers young readers a cheerful introduction to autumn and models observation, optimism, and resilience in the face of...

AUTUMN IS HERE

From the Tractor Mac series

A routine-loving young calf reluctantly learns to embrace change in this Tractor Mac installment.

Anthropomorphic Tractor Mac and his animal friends at Stony Meadow Farm are observing the seasonal shift from summer to autumn when they realize that one of their number is struggling with the transition: Fergus the calf has never experienced autumn, and he “does not like change.” The animals and Tractor Mac demonstrate familiarity with the why and not just the what of farm operations—as participants in the cyclical patterns dictated by the changing seasons, they gladly articulate to Fergus how the changes benefit the farm. The endpapers feature clearly labeled diagrams of Tractor Mac as well as his new mounted corn picker, which will delight readers interested in vehicles and machinery. Steers’ realistic watercolor-and-ink illustrations establish Stony Meadow and its expressive animal occupants in the foreground in warm shades of yellow, orange, and red while the white farmer couple appears most frequently in the background. When other humans are pictured, as at the Pumpkin Picking Festival, they are overwhelmingly white with just a few exceptions. The book’s lack of ethnic diversity, coupled with historically ambiguous depictions of vehicles and attire, suggests the story is set in the American rural northeast sometime around the middle of the 20th century.

Offers young readers a cheerful introduction to autumn and models observation, optimism, and resilience in the face of unexpected change. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 20, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-374-30920-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: April 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2019

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Not astonishingly go-out-and-buy-it-at-graduation inspirational, but all it takes is one seed of change to be planted.

GOING PLACES

Imagination soars—quite literally—when a little girl follows her own set of rules.

Every year Oak Hill School has a go-kart race called the Going Places contest. Students are given identical go-kart kits with a precise set of instructions. And of course, every single kart ends up exactly the same. Every one, that is, except Maya’s. Maya is a dreamy artist, and she would rather sketch birds in her backyard than get caught up in the competition. When she finally does start working, she uses the parts in the go-kart box but creates something completely different. No one ever said it had to be a go-kart. Maya’s creative thinking inspires Rafael, her neighbor (and the most enthusiastic Going Places contestant), to ask to team up. The instructions never say they couldn’t work together, either! An ode to creativity and individuality to be sure, but the Reynolds brothers are also taking a swipe at modern education: Endless repetition and following instructions without question create a culture of conformity. Hopefully now, readers will see infinite possibility every time the system hands them an identical go-kart box.

Not astonishingly go-out-and-buy-it-at-graduation inspirational, but all it takes is one seed of change to be planted. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: March 18, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4424-6608-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: Jan. 15, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2014

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A welcome addition to autumnal storytelling—and to tales of traditional enemies overcoming their history.

THE SCARECROW

Ferry and the Fans portray a popular seasonal character’s unlikely friendship.

Initially, the protagonist is shown in his solitary world: “Scarecrow stands alone and scares / the fox and deer, / the mice and crows. / It’s all he does. It’s all he knows.” His presence is effective; the animals stay outside the fenced-in fields, but the omniscient narrator laments the character’s lack of friends or places to go. Everything changes when a baby crow falls nearby. Breaking his pole so he can bend, the scarecrow picks it up, placing the creature in the bib of his overalls while singing a lullaby. Both abandon natural tendencies until the crow learns to fly—and thus departs. The aabb rhyme scheme flows reasonably well, propelling the narrative through fall, winter, and spring, when the mature crow returns with a mate to build a nest in the overalls bib that once was his home. The Fan brothers capture the emotional tenor of the seasons and the main character in their panoramic pencil, ballpoint, and digital compositions. Particularly poignant is the close-up of the scarecrow’s burlap face, his stitched mouth and leaf-rimmed head conveying such sadness after his companion goes. Some adults may wonder why the scarecrow seems to have only partial agency, but children will be tuned into the problem, gratified by the resolution.

A welcome addition to autumnal storytelling—and to tales of traditional enemies overcoming their history. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-247576-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2019

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