This little gem elicits a sense of deep-seated comfort and refuge for these uncertain times.

BIRD HOUSE

A little yellow bird is grounded in the snow with a broken leg when a child and their abuela rescue it.

Cupping it gently in her hands, Abuela takes the bird home and sets its leg while her grandchild eagerly looks on. Settling the bird in a domed cage, they both care for it until, soon, the bird is flying around the house—to the child’s delight and the cat’s frustration. The day comes to release the healed bird, and the child waves it on its way as it flies over the city. But one spring day a familiar sight greets them—their winged friend has returned. Although the child yearns to keep it, Abuela soothingly reminds her grandchild that the bird belongs to itself and has the right to fly free. But Abuela constructs a sturdy birdhouse from a blueprint and mounts it beside the balcony door—an implicit invitation for future visits. Spanish author/illustrator Gómez’s semiautobiographical tribute to her own abuela is a charming window into an idyllic childhood infused with love for all living things. The simple, flowing first-person narrative flits from page to page in a gentle lilting commentary on harmony and respect. Gómez’s carefully constructed images, from the well-tended profusion of plants to the child-sized chair and mouse toy, are whimsically detailed and subtly compelling. Both child and Abuela have light-brown skin. A Spanish-language edition, Un pájaro en casa, publishes simultaneously. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10-by-16-inch double-page spreads viewed at actual size.)

This little gem elicits a sense of deep-seated comfort and refuge for these uncertain times. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: April 20, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-4197-4408-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: March 2, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2021

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A quiet, thought-provoking story of environmental change and the power humans have to slow it.

THE OLD BOAT

A multigenerational tale of a boat’s life with a Black family, written by two brothers who loved similar boats.

In the opening spread, a smiling, brown-skinned adult dangles a line from the back of a green-and-white boat while a boy peers eagerly over the side at the sea life. The text never describes years passing, but each page turn reveals the boy’s aging, more urban development on the shore, increasing water pollution, marine-life changes (sea jellies abound on one page), and shifting water levels. Eventually, the boy, now a teenager, steers the boat, and as an adult, he fishes alone but must go farther and farther out to sea to make his catch. One day, the man loses his way, capsizes in a storm, and washes up on a small bay island, with the overturned, sunken boat just offshore. Now a “new sailor” cleans up the land and water with others’ help. The physical similarities between the shipwrecked sailor and the “new sailor” suggest that this is not a new person but one whose near-death experience has led to an epiphany that changes his relationship to water. As the decaying boat becomes a new marine habitat, the sailor teaches the next generation (a child with hair in two Afro puffs) to fish. Focusing primarily on the sea, the book’s earth-toned illustrations, created with hundreds of stamps, carry the compelling plot.

A quiet, thought-provoking story of environmental change and the power humans have to slow it. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-324-00517-9

Page Count: 56

Publisher: Norton Young Readers

Review Posted Online: Dec. 25, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2021

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An ideal introduction to this familiar waterfowl—readers will enjoy diving right in.

JUST DUCKS!

Mallard ducks catch the attention of an observant young narrator. Join in on her day’s travels to learn a lot about these quacking creatures.

Quacks appear in graduated type from large to small to begin this informational gem. The daily activities of a young girl propel the easy-flowing language full of ducky details. Perfectly placed additional facts in smaller and similar-in-tone text are included on each spread. These seamless complements serve to explain unfamiliar terms such as “preening,” “dabbling” and “upending.” While Davies’ text gently informs, Rubbino’s mixed-media illustrations, done in a subdued palette of watery greens, grays and browns, truly impress. Mama ducks, drakes and ducklings alike hold the focus as they nest, search for food, swim, splash and sleep. The loose and childlike pictures capture essential details: the “secret patch of blue on each wing” and the “cute little curl on their tails.” At the end of the day (and book), readers find “The bridge is quiet, and there’s just the sound of rushing water and the stillness of the night.” But the page turn reveals another morning of “ducks—just ducks, down on the river that flows through the town.”

An ideal introduction to this familiar waterfowl—readers will enjoy diving right in. (index, note) (Informational picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-7636-5936-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Feb. 5, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2012

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