This charming look at a cooperative project outdoors in fresh air and sunshine captures the appeal of gardening and may...

THE CHILDREN'S GARDEN

GROWING FOOD IN THE CITY

A multiethnic group of five children plants and cares for their own neighborhood garden in a city setting.

This engaging story was inspired by a real community garden for children in Seattle. In this interpretation, the group of young gardeners includes two Asian girls, a black boy, a boy with light-brown skin, and a white boy. The kids appear to be on their own without adult supervision on this project, as they work cooperatively on a large plot of land with plentiful supplies for preparing the soil, planting seeds, watering, and weeding. The children also take time to play in the garden space and rest inside their “bean tent,” a cleverly constructed oasis of green bean vines twining around a tall structure of plant stakes. The short, evocative text effectively uses rich, imaginative language to describe the process of gardening with phrases such as “drip-drop damp” and sunflowers “rustling their leafy dresses.” Vivid illustrations in a naïve style use bright greens, sunny backgrounds, and a rainbow of flowers and produce to present the garden as a lively, welcoming environment. Anywhere Farm, by Phyllis Root and illustrated by G. Brian Karas (2017), also shows children gardening in an urban setting, making a nice pairing.

This charming look at a cooperative project outdoors in fresh air and sunshine captures the appeal of gardening and may inspire children to plant some seeds of their own. (author’s note) (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: May 2, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-57061-984-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Little Bigfoot/Sasquatch

Review Posted Online: Feb. 20, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2017

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A good bet for the youngest bird-watchers.

MAMA BUILT A LITTLE NEST

Echoing the meter of “Mary Had a Little Lamb,” Ward uses catchy original rhymes to describe the variety of nests birds create.

Each sweet stanza is complemented by a factual, engaging description of the nesting habits of each bird. Some of the notes are intriguing, such as the fact that the hummingbird uses flexible spider web to construct its cup-shaped nest so the nest will stretch as the chicks grow. An especially endearing nesting behavior is that of the emperor penguin, who, with unbelievable patience, incubates the egg between his tummy and his feet for up to 60 days. The author clearly feels a mission to impart her extensive knowledge of birds and bird behavior to the very young, and she’s found an appealing and attractive way to accomplish this. The simple rhymes on the left page of each spread, written from the young bird’s perspective, will appeal to younger children, and the notes on the right-hand page of each spread provide more complex factual information that will help parents answer further questions and satisfy the curiosity of older children. Jenkins’ accomplished collage illustrations of common bird species—woodpecker, hummingbird, cowbird, emperor penguin, eagle, owl, wren—as well as exotics, such as flamingoes and hornbills, are characteristically naturalistic and accurate in detail.

A good bet for the youngest bird-watchers.   (author’s note, further resources) (Informational picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 18, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4424-2116-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Beach Lane/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Jan. 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2014

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A solid, small step for diversifying STEM stories.

ASTRONAUT ANNIE

What does Annie want to be?

As career day approaches, Annie wants to keep her job choice secret until her family sees her presentation at school. Readers will figure it out, however, through the title and clues Tadgell incorporates into the illustrations. Family members make guesses about her ambitions that are tied to their own passions, although her brother watches as she completes her costume in a bedroom with a Mae Jemison poster, starry décor, and a telescope. There’s a celebratory mood at the culminating presentation, where Annie says she wants to “soar high through the air” like her basketball-playing mother, “explore faraway places” like her hiker dad, and “be brave and bold” like her baker grandmother (this feels forced, but oven mitts are part of her astronaut costume) so “the whole world will hear my exciting stories” like her reporter grandfather. Annie jumps off a chair to “BLAST OFF” in a small illustration superimposed on a larger picture depicting her floating in space with a reddish ground below. It’s unclear if Annie imagines this scene or if it’s her future-self exploring Mars, but either scenario fits the aspirational story. Backmatter provides further reading suggestions and information about the moon and four women astronauts, one of whom is Jemison. Annie and her family are all black.

A solid, small step for diversifying STEM stories. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 6, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-88448-523-0

Page Count: 36

Publisher: Tilbury House

Review Posted Online: Feb. 4, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2018

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