A beautiful tribute to a much-maligned animal with which we share our world.

HUNGRY COYOTE

We share our cities with coyotes.

This masterfully illustrated appreciation follows a coyote that lives near a lakeshore in an urban park through four seasons of hunting for food for himself and his family. Extensive alliteration and the repetition of phrase patterns characterize a text that reads like poetry and describes the activities of the coyote and those of the oblivious children playing in the park. During a summer storm, for instance, the children “jump, twirl, and umbrella-whirl,” while the coyote “herds his playful pups to shelter.” There are sounds and smells and surprising sensory imagery: “Wind whirls autumn’s litter into rustling piles.” Coyote’s foraging is not always successful. He tries and fails to catch a vole. But he grabs sausages from a summer picnic, and in the fall, he catches an old Canada goose to feed a family that now includes six growing pups. Usually foregrounding the coyote, Caple’s realistic paintings also document the changing seasons, from midwinter to winter’s onset again. Each spread has a few lines of text; occasionally an onomatopoetic sound word swoops across the image. One icy blue spread is nearly empty; the coyote “howls for spring” in the distance. His is not an easy life, and readers will come away with sympathy and appreciation.

A beautiful tribute to a much-maligned animal with which we share our world. (Informational picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: May 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-87351-964-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Minnesota Historical Society Press

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2015

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Renata’s wren encounter proves magical, one most children could only wish to experience outside of this lovely story.

CARPENTER'S HELPER

A home-renovation project is interrupted by a family of wrens, allowing a young girl an up-close glimpse of nature.

Renata and her father enjoy working on upgrading their bathroom, installing a clawfoot bathtub, and cutting a space for a new window. One warm night, after Papi leaves the window space open, two wrens begin making a nest in the bathroom. Rather than seeing it as an unfortunate delay of their project, Renata and Papi decide to let the avian carpenters continue their work. Renata witnesses the birth of four chicks as their rosy eggs split open “like coats that are suddenly too small.” Renata finds at a crucial moment that she can help the chicks learn to fly, even with the bittersweet knowledge that it will only hasten their exits from her life. Rosen uses lively language and well-chosen details to move the story of the baby birds forward. The text suggests the strong bond built by this Afro-Latinx father and daughter with their ongoing project without needing to point it out explicitly, a light touch in a picture book full of delicate, well-drawn moments and precise wording. Garoche’s drawings are impressively detailed, from the nest’s many small bits to the developing first feathers on the chicks and the wall smudges and exposed wiring of the renovation. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10-by-20-inch double-page spreads viewed at actual size.)

Renata’s wren encounter proves magical, one most children could only wish to experience outside of this lovely story. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: March 16, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-12320-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Schwartz & Wade/Random

Review Posted Online: Jan. 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2021

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Roller-coaster enthusiasts or not, children will eagerly join our intrepid hero on this entertaining ride.

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THE PIGEON WILL RIDE THE ROLLER COASTER!

The Pigeon is on an emotional—and physical—roller coaster.

Since learning about the existence of roller coasters, he’s become giddy with excitement. The Pigeon prepares mentally: He’ll need a ticket and “exemplary patience” to wait in line. He envisions zooming up and down and careening through dizzying turns and loops. Then, he imagines his emotions afterward: exhilaration, post-ride blues, pride at having accomplished such a feat, and enthusiasm at the prospect of riding again. (He’ll also feel dizzy and nauseous.) All this before the Pigeon ever sets claw on an actual coaster. So…will he really try it? Are roller coasters fun? When the moment comes, everything seems to go according to plan: waiting in line, settling into the little car, THEN—off he goes! Though the ride itself isn’t quite what the Pigeon expected, it will delight readers. Wearing his feelings on his wing and speaking directly to the audience in first person, the Pigeon describes realistic thoughts and emotions about waiting and guessing about the unknown—common childhood experiences. No sentiment is misplaced; kids will relate to Pigeon’s eagerness and apprehension. The ending falls somewhat flat, but the whole humorous point is that an underwhelming adventure can still be thrilling enough to warrant repeating. Willems’ trademark droll illustrations will have readers giggling. The roller-coaster attendant is light-skinned. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Roller-coaster enthusiasts or not, children will eagerly join our intrepid hero on this entertaining ride. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 6, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-4549-4686-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Union Square Kids

Review Posted Online: June 8, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2022

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