Crocus-poking, mud-luscious enjoyment.

ON A SNOW-MELTING DAY

SEEKING SIGNS OF SPRING

Full-color photography and sparse, rhyming verse offer a look at early spring in a temperate climate.

Text, art, and layout are clever, thoughtful, and engaging. One double-page spread gives the beginning of a sentence that will have several different endings over the pages that follow; the sequence is repeated four times. The opening pages start with “On a drip-droppy, / slip-sloppy, / snow-melting day….” Each of those three descriptions is accompanied by a clear and beautiful stock photograph; contrasting black or white text over the photographs is large and legible. The pages that follow use rhyming couplets with their own photographs to end that preceding phrase: “Squirrels cuddle. / Snakes huddle. / Clouds break. / Salamanders wake.” Plants, animals, and human beings are all included in the signs of spring; children will relate strongly to soaked mittens, boots in puddles, melting snowmen, and swinging on a tire swing. A particularly stunning photograph shows a chickadee, wings whirring, sipping water from a dripping icicle. Explanations of this and all the early spring phenomena depicted are offered at the back of the book, extending the age level from preschool to early primary grades. The overall theme, as well as the creative use of noun-verb combinations to form new adjectives, also lends itself to introducing children to the e.e. cummings poem that begins “in Just-spring.” One photograph shows two humans, both presenting as white.

Crocus-poking, mud-luscious enjoyment. (glossary, further reading) (Informational picture book. 3-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5415-7813-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Millbrook/Lerner

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

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This charming star shines bright.

THE SUN IS KIND OF A BIG DEAL

A humorous introduction to our sun and the solar system.

Webcomic creator Seluk aquaints readers with the sun (sporting a sly grin and a cool pair of shades) and its position as both the literal and metaphorical star of the solar system. Readers are introduced to the planets’ general relationships to the sun before diving deeper into the Earth’s unique reliance on the sun: “It does a ton of important jobs for Earth. In fact, we wouldn’t be around without the Sun!” The book explores everything from the effects of Earth’s rotation on our planet’s temperatures, daylight, and seasons to the water cycle and photosynthesis with clear and friendly prose. The planets’ characterizations are silly and irreverent: Venus wears a visor, Saturn is a hula-hoop champ, and Jupiter desperately wants an autograph but pretends it’s for one of its moons. Speech-bubble asides and simple but expressive faces and arm postures add to the celestial bodies’ personalities. Bright colors, contrasting backgrounds, and bold lines are engaging but never overwhelming. Vocabulary words set in boldface are tied to a glossary in the back. Backmatter also includes a gossip-magazine–style spread (“Planets: They’re Just Like Us!”) and a “Did You Know” section that highlights ancient civilizations’ beliefs about the sun.

This charming star shines bright. (Informational picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 25, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-338-16697-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Orchard/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: June 25, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2018

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Wow.

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    Best Books Of 2018

  • Coretta Scott King Book Award Winner

THE STUFF OF STARS

The stories of the births of the universe, the planet Earth, and a human child are told in this picture book.

Bauer begins with cosmic nothing: “In the dark / in the deep, deep dark / a speck floated / invisible as thought / weighty as God.” Her powerful words build the story of the creation of the universe, presenting the science in poetic free verse. First, the narrative tells of the creation of stars by the Big Bang, then the explosions of some of those stars, from which dust becomes the matter that coalesces into planets, then the creation of life on Earth: a “lucky planet…neither too far / nor too near…its yellow star…the Sun.” Holmes’ digitally assembled hand-marbled paper-collage illustrations perfectly pair with the text—in fact the words and illustrations become an inseparable whole, as together they both delineate and suggest—the former telling the story and the latter, with their swirling colors suggestive of vast cosmos, contributing the atmosphere. It’s a stunning achievement to present to readers the factual events that created the birth of the universe, the planet Earth, and life on Earth with such an expressive, powerful creativity of words paired with illustrations so evocative of the awe and magic of the cosmos. But then the story goes one brilliant step further and gives the birth of a child the same beginning, the same sense of magic, the same miracle.

Wow. (Picture book. 3-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 4, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-7636-7883-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: July 16, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2018

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