Striking illustrations, but sometimes light on factual details. (Informational picture book. 3-7)

KANGAROO AND CROCODILE

MY BIG BOOK OF AUSTRALIAN ANIMALS

Australian animals are ever-intriguing, and this large-format picture book provides a visually stunning experience for young armchair travelers and their elders.

Most of the double-page spreads feature two often-related animals (bottlenose dolphin and great white shark, for instance), although a few splendidly concentrate on one animal. There are also several spreads with four different animals. Bancroft, an Aboriginal artist who has created textiles, fashions, paintings and illustrations in many picture books, uses eye-popping colors, concentric circles, pointillist dots, zigzagging lines and other elements of Australian indigenous art to portray animals and their environments in highly stylized forms. An undulating ribbon of changing color runs through the book, uniting the pages; each animal’s name appears on this wide stripe that cuts each page in two. Occasionally, as on the cockatoo and galah spread, readers may be confused by the labels, as both pages include examples of each avian species. The kangaroo and wallaby page is also difficult to decipher, as the animals are similar, and the illustrator has mixed them together. More sophisticated readers may enjoy the visual puzzle. Descriptions of each animal, in alphabetical order, are given at the end, but the two or three sentences sometimes do not provide enough information, as in the case of “reef life,” and should be supplemented with other sources.

Striking illustrations, but sometimes light on factual details. (Informational picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-921714-25-2

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Little Hare/Trafalgar

Review Posted Online: Oct. 31, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2012

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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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This warm family story is a splendid showcase for the combined talents of Medina, a Pura Belpré award winner, and Dominguez,...

MANGO, ABUELA, AND ME

Abuela is coming to stay with Mia and her parents. But how will they communicate if Mia speaks little Spanish and Abuela, little English? Could it be that a parrot named Mango is the solution?

The measured, evocative text describes how Mia’s español is not good enough to tell Abuela the things a grandmother should know. And Abuela’s English is too poquito to tell Mia all the stories a granddaughter wants to hear. Mia sets out to teach her Abuela English. A red feather Abuela has brought with her to remind her of a wild parrot that roosted in her mango trees back home gives Mia an idea. She and her mother buy a parrot they name Mango. And as Abuela and Mia teach Mango, and each other, to speak both Spanish and English, their “mouths [fill] with things to say.” The accompanying illustrations are charmingly executed in ink, gouache, and marker, “with a sprinkling of digital magic.” They depict a cheery urban neighborhood and a comfortable, small apartment. Readers from multigenerational immigrant families will recognize the all-too-familiar language barrier. They will also cheer for the warm and loving relationship between Abuela and Mia, which is evident in both text and illustrations even as the characters struggle to understand each other. A Spanish-language edition, Mango, Abuela, y yo, gracefully translated by Teresa Mlawer, publishes simultaneously.

This warm family story is a splendid showcase for the combined talents of Medina, a Pura Belpré award winner, and Dominguez, an honoree. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 25, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-7636-6900-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: April 15, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2015

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