A Christian tale of the bond between humans and animals with thoughtful prose.

THE CHARTREUSE BLUE JAY

A woman and her pet parakeet learn the value of their connection in this dramatic, faith-centered children’s book.

Munchie is a parakeet who lives with Grandmommie, an older woman whom he adores and who loves him dearly. Despite their affectionate relationship, Munchie does find himself yearning to be free outdoors, and has escaped from his cage several times. He especially admires blue jays, birds he considers cool, confident, and beautiful. One day, Grandmommie decides to treat Munchie by bringing him outside in his cage while she gets some gardening work done. While she has her back turned, the neighborhood cat decides to cause some mischief by knocking over Munchie’s cage and freeing the bird, who immediately takes to the skies. Grandmommie is beside herself with grief and guilt, and begins to search for Munchie, to no avail. The next day, she sees him outside on a telephone wire amid a group of the blue jays he reveres. He flies off before she is able to recapture him, convinced that freedom is better than captivity. While Grandmommie is away tending to some neighbors, a fierce thunderstorm persuades Munchie that he is not ready to live outdoors after all. He gets Grandmommie’s attention from the window and immediately flies back indoors, appreciating the goodness in his life. This enjoyable tale is richly illustrated with bright, digitally rendered artwork by Honasan. Grandmommie displays a deep Christian faith, and much of the time she is praying for guidance or thanking God. The premise is not very original, but Barr’s prose is engaging: “Hiding beneath an overgrowth of ivy covered bushes, an unseen presence, dark and sinister, watched and waited for the perfect opportunity.”

A Christian tale of the bond between humans and animals with thoughtful prose.

Pub Date: Oct. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-973670-60-5

Page Count: 74

Publisher: Westbow Press

Review Posted Online: April 22, 2020

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Standard issue browsing fodder, likely to sink quickly out of sight through overall mediocrity.

MARINE SUPERSTARS

From the Animal Bests series

Quick takes on selected denizens of the deep (and not so deep), illustrated with a mix of nature photos and brightly colored painted portraits.

Catering not so much to younger independent readers as to those with short attention spans, a smattering of double-page spreads introduces creatures from the octopus (“Undersea Brainboxes” with the ability to get into, and even out of, screw-top jars) to the Mekong giant catfish (“big as a tiger”) while focusing on particular animal talents—such as camouflage, special senses, or tool using. Aside from the low page count, nothing about this book or its companions stands out. Portolano’s images are unexceptional, but they at least fill gaps in the stingy assortment of stock photos, and along with chatty general commentary, Farndon occasionally dishes up some uncommon tidbits, such as the way sharks will display “tonic immobility” (i.e., play dead) or the pearlfish’s habit of taking up residence in a sea cucumber’s anus. Series companions Amazing Land Animals, Incredible Bugs, and Remarkable Birds take the same browser-friendly approach. And for the most part, the content in all is anchored, however tenuously, in fact.

Standard issue browsing fodder, likely to sink quickly out of sight through overall mediocrity. (Nonfiction. 8-9)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-5124-0625-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Hungry Tomato/Lerner

Review Posted Online: July 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2016

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THE BONE KEEPER

From McDonald (Tundra Mouse, 1997, etc.), a haunting, dramatic glimpse of the Bone Keeper, a trickster with special transformational powers. Some say Bone Woman is a ghost; some envision her with three heads that view past, present, and future simultaneously. Most, however, call her the “Skeleton Maker” or “Keeper of Bones.” Chanting, shaking, moaning, and wailing, the Bone Keeper is frenzied as she sorts bones; not until the end of the book are readers told, in murmuring lines of free verse, what the Bone Keeper is creating in her mysterious desert cave. Out of the darkness, a wolf springs to life, leaps from the cave, howling, a symbol of resurrection and proof of life’s cyclical nature. Also keeping readers guessing as to the Bone Keeper’s final creation are Karas’s paintings; they, too, require that the final piece of the puzzle be placed before all are understood. The coloring and textures embody the desert setting in the evening, showing the fearsome cave and sandy shadows that wait to release the mystery of the bones. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: March 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-7894-2559-9

Page Count: 30

Publisher: DK Publishing

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 1999

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