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Rocket-Bye

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

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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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BECAUSE I HAD A TEACHER

A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift.

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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. 13, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

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TALES FOR VERY PICKY EATERS

Broccoli: No way is James going to eat broccoli. “It’s disgusting,” says James. Well then, James, says his father, let’s consider the alternatives: some wormy dirt, perhaps, some stinky socks, some pre-chewed gum? James reconsiders the broccoli, but—milk? “Blech,” says James. Right, says his father, who needs strong bones? You’ll be great at hide-and-seek, though not so great at baseball and kickball and even tickling the dog’s belly. James takes a mouthful. So it goes through lumpy oatmeal, mushroom lasagna and slimy eggs, with James’ father parrying his son’s every picky thrust. And it is fun, because the father’s retorts are so outlandish: the lasagna-making troll in the basement who will be sent back to the rat circus, there to endure the rodent’s vicious bites; the uneaten oatmeal that will grow and grow and probably devour the dog that the boy won’t be able to tickle any longer since his bones are so rubbery. Schneider’s watercolors catch the mood of gentle ribbing, the looks of bewilderment and surrender and the deadpanned malarkey. It all makes James’ father’s last urging—“I was just going to say that you might like them if you tried them”—wholly fresh and unexpected advice. (Early reader. 5-9)

Pub Date: May 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-547-14956-1

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Clarion Books

Review Posted Online: April 4, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2011

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