A read-aloud lullaby with dreamy pictures, perfect for sending budding astronauts to slumber.

Rocket-Bye

Veteran author Roman (Being a Captain Is Hard Work, 2016, etc.) sends readers on a rhyming voyage through the Milky Way, accompanied by Arkova’s whimsical illustrations.

A pair of unnamed siblings ride on a rocket ship from Earth toward the moon and beyond. They rise up, away from the planet, and the cities and mountains shrink below as they head into the Milky Way. Roman’s words paint as vibrant a picture as Arkova’s gorgeous swirls of pinks and blues: “We love the constellations, / the way they fill the skies. // The crazy quilt of a universe / is spread before our eyes.” Flying through the solar system, passing Mercury, Venus, and Mars, the siblings dance atop their rocket among the constellations (including Drakko and Leo) and the bright stars (Polaris, Castor, Rigel). Then it’s back to the planets, including a very stylized, blue-tinted Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, and poor, demoted Pluto, whose status as a dwarf planet isn’t mentioned. After a final zoom through the galaxy, the two children go home to their shared bedroom, where they have model planets suspended from the ceiling, star-painted walls, and a toy rocket ship between their beds. The book’s poetry scans well and rolls off the tongue without too much stumbling; the rhythm shifts now and then, but after one read-through, adults should be able to adjust their performance for lap readers without losing the beat. Some unique word selections will help children increase their vocabularies (“ponder,” “romp,” “glimpse”). Although this may increase the challenge for independent readers, younger ones will enjoy poring over the illustrations while their parents read aloud. The two siblings are wonderfully gender-ambiguous, so readers can imagine themselves as either the older, dark-haired sibling or the younger, blond child without hindrance. Arkova portrays several constellations with high accuracy but also depicts UFOs and aliens as extra details to add to the images’ dreamlike nature. The illustration and comforting language at the end of the book should have lap readers ready to head to their own rocket beds to drift off to sleep.

A read-aloud lullaby with dreamy pictures, perfect for sending budding astronauts to slumber.

Pub Date: March 13, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-5302-4337-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: May 17, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2016

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ABIYOYO RETURNS

The seemingly ageless Seeger brings back his renowned giant for another go in a tuneful tale that, like the art, is a bit sketchy, but chockful of worthy messages. Faced with yearly floods and droughts since they’ve cut down all their trees, the townsfolk decide to build a dam—but the project is stymied by a boulder that is too huge to move. Call on Abiyoyo, suggests the granddaughter of the man with the magic wand, then just “Zoop Zoop” him away again. But the rock that Abiyoyo obligingly flings aside smashes the wand. How to avoid Abiyoyo’s destruction now? Sing the monster to sleep, then make it a peaceful, tree-planting member of the community, of course. Seeger sums it up in a postscript: “every community must learn to manage its giants.” Hays, who illustrated the original (1986), creates colorful, if unfinished-looking, scenes featuring a notably multicultural human cast and a towering Cubist fantasy of a giant. The song, based on a Xhosa lullaby, still has that hard-to-resist sing-along potential, and the themes of waging peace, collective action, and the benefits of sound ecological practices are presented in ways that children will both appreciate and enjoy. (Picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-689-83271-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2001

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THE NAME JAR

Unhei has just left her Korean homeland and come to America with her parents. As she rides the school bus toward her first day of school, she remembers the farewell at the airport in Korea and examines the treasured gift her grandmother gave her: a small red pouch containing a wooden block on which Unhei’s name is carved. Unhei is ashamed when the children on the bus find her name difficult to pronounce and ridicule it. Lesson learned, she declines to tell her name to anyone else and instead offers, “Um, I haven’t picked one yet. But I’ll let you know next week.” Her classmates write suggested names on slips of paper and place them in a jar. One student, Joey, takes a particular liking to Unhei and sees the beauty in her special stamp. When the day arrives for Unhei to announce her chosen name, she discovers how much Joey has helped. Choi (Earthquake, see below, etc.) draws from her own experience, interweaving several issues into this touching account and delicately addressing the challenges of assimilation. The paintings are done in creamy, earth-tone oils and augment the story nicely. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: July 10, 2001

ISBN: 0-375-80613-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2001

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