A warmhearted, eye-pleasing new “Rock-a-Bye Baby” picture book in verse, nicely calibrated for cozy bedtime reading.

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In the Tree Top

A NEW LULLABY

Using the well-loved “Rock-a-Bye Baby” lyrics as their springboard, a writer/editor with a literary-press background and her collaborator, an accomplished watercolorist, have created a pretty new picture book shaped around reassuring verses.

“Rock-a-bye baby in the tree top / When the wind blows the cradle will rock, / When the bough breaks the cradle will fall, / And down will come baby cradle and all.” This traditional lullaby, known to generations (the original rhyme goes back centuries), has long inspired children’s authors, music artists—and undoubtedly parents and other caregivers—to put their own stamp on it. Jones (a writer, editor, and advising assistant director of Wake Forest University Press) and artist Emery contribute to the mix with a combination of tender new verses and delicate watercolor paintings. Jones begins her addition to the familiar rhyme: “When the bough breaks / I’ll be right there / And I will catch you as you fall through the air.” She continues in that soothing vein—“The world is so big and you are so small, / I’ll always hear you whenever you call”—and ends with this parental affirmation: “Trees grow up tall / But love never stops ... /  Someday you’ll go climbing / To the tree tops!” Emery’s illustrations, rendered in a soft, cool color palette, provide an opportunity for cozy parent-child interaction, too, guided by Jones’ back-of-book, seek-and-find list of people and animals to be discovered throughout: “p.7 One green hound dog, one baby,” “p.13 Two hound dogs, two yellow fish, five horses, one mother, one baby,” “p.21 One big bear, three cats, one bird, one squirrel, two bunnies, one raccoon, and one baby! Do you see the train?” A musical performance of Jones’ new verses, sung by recording artist Laurelyn Dossett, available as a free download, demonstrates the words’ rhythmic pattern. A notice at the website states that a portion of the book’s sales will benefit child-abuse prevention and animal welfare nonprofits.

A warmhearted, eye-pleasing new “Rock-a-Bye Baby” picture book in verse, nicely calibrated for cozy bedtime reading.

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-9965202-0-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Black Dog Cottage Publishing

Review Posted Online: Sept. 23, 2015

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A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift.

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BECAUSE I HAD A TEACHER

A paean to teachers and their surrogates everywhere.

This gentle ode to a teacher’s skill at inspiring, encouraging, and being a role model is spoken, presumably, from a child’s viewpoint. However, the voice could equally be that of an adult, because who can’t look back upon teachers or other early mentors who gave of themselves and offered their pupils so much? Indeed, some of the self-aware, self-assured expressions herein seem perhaps more realistic as uttered from one who’s already grown. Alternatively, readers won’t fail to note that this small book, illustrated with gentle soy-ink drawings and featuring an adult-child bear duo engaged in various sedentary and lively pursuits, could just as easily be about human parent- (or grandparent-) child pairs: some of the softly colored illustrations depict scenarios that are more likely to occur within a home and/or other family-oriented setting. Makes sense: aren’t parents and other close family members children’s first teachers? This duality suggests that the book might be best shared one-on-one between a nostalgic adult and a child who’s developed some self-confidence, having learned a thing or two from a parent, grandparent, older relative, or classroom instructor.

A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-943200-08-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Compendium

Review Posted Online: Dec. 14, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

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THE LORAX

The greening of Dr. Seuss, in an ecology fable with an obvious message but a savingly silly style. In the desolate land of the Lifted Lorax, an aged creature called the Once-ler tells a young visitor how he arrived long ago in the then glorious country and began manufacturing anomalous objects called Thneeds from "the bright-colored tufts of the Truffula Trees." Despite protests from the Lorax, a native "who speaks for the trees," he continues to chop down Truffulas until he drives away the Brown Bar-ba-loots who had fed on the Tuffula fruit, the Swomee-Swans who can't sing a note for the smogulous smoke, and the Humming-Fish who had hummed in the pond now glumped up with Gluppity-Glupp. As for the Once-let, "1 went right on biggering, selling more Thneeds./ And I biggered my money, which everyone needs" — until the last Truffula falls. But one seed is left, and the Once-let hands it to his listener, with a message from the Lorax: "UNLESS someone like you/ cares a whole awful lot,/ nothing is going to get better./ It's not." The spontaneous madness of the old Dr. Seuss is absent here, but so is the boredom he often induced (in parents, anyway) with one ridiculous invention after another. And if the Once-let doesn't match the Grinch for sheer irresistible cussedness, he is stealing a lot more than Christmas and his story just might induce a generation of six-year-olds to care a whole lot.

Pub Date: Aug. 12, 1971

ISBN: 0394823370

Page Count: 72

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Oct. 19, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1971

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