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HUNGRY COYOTE

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

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 16, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2015

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CARPENTER'S HELPER

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

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. 12, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2021

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IZZY GIZMO AND THE INVENTION CONVENTION

From the Izzy Gizmo series

A disappointing follow-up.

Inventor Izzy Gizmo is back in this sequel to her eponymous debut (2017).

While busily inventing one day, Izzy receives an invitation from the Genius Guild to their annual convention. Though Izzy’s “inventions…don’t always work,” Grandpa (apparently her sole caregiver) encourages her to go. The next day they undertake a long journey “over fields, hills, and waves” and “mile after mile” to isolated Technoff Isle. There, Izzy finds she must compete against four other kids to create the most impressive machine. The colorful, detail-rich illustrations chronicle how poor Izzy is thwarted at every turn by Abi von Lavish, a Veruca Salt–esque character who takes all the supplies for herself. But when Abi abandons her project, Izzy salvages the pieces and decides to take Grandpa’s advice to create a machine that “can really be put to good use.” A frustrated Izzy’s impatience with a friend almost foils her chance at the prize, but all’s well that ends well. There’s much to like: Brown-skinned inventor girl Izzy is an appealing character, it’s great to see a nurturing brown-skinned male caregiver, the idea of an “Invention Convention” is fun, and a sustainable-energy invention is laudable. However, these elements don’t make up for rhymes that often feel forced and a lackluster story.

A disappointing follow-up. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: March 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-68263-164-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Peachtree

Review Posted Online: Jan. 11, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

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