Tongva cultural memory is alive and well in Alvitre’s skillful storytelling.

WAA'AKA'

THE BIRD WHO FELL IN LOVE WITH THE SUN

An #ownvoices creation story of the Indigenous people of Southern California, brimming with vivid imagery. This stunning picture book weaves gorgeous prose from Tongva author Alvitre with the evocative watercolors of illustrator Lake to convey an ancient story: first, how sacred plants came into being, and later, how the sun came to be in the heavens. Expressed through the relationship between Waa’aka’, the “sleek and beautiful” white bird, and Tamet, the sun, Tongva values such as collaboration and humility are emphasized through the animal characters—demonstrated handily by Owl, Kingfisher, and Raven and sorely missing within Waa’aka’, who turns out to be quite self-centered. As the narrative unfolds, a wide range of young readers will be enthralled by the tension between Waa’aka’ and her fellow birds, who work together to heave the sun into the cosmos while, secretly, Waa’aka’ attempts to sabotage the project in order to keep the sun for herself. The plan eventually succeeds; when Tamet is flung into the heavens, Waa’aka’ ascends with him, her pearly feathers accidentally burned by Tamet’s fire. With her ulterior motives exposed, Wiyot, the creator, relegates Waa’aka’ to a nocturnal existence, never to see the sun again. Lake’s paintings bloom with life, modulating between symbolic and realistic representation to convey the tale. Wiyot’s russet-colored hands appear throughout, emphasizing his role in creation. Tongva cultural memory is alive and well in Alvitre’s skillful storytelling. (foreword) (Picture book/cosmology. 5-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-59714-509-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Heyday

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2020

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A refreshing dive past some of our world’s marine wonders.

THE BIG BOOK OF THE BLUE

Denizens of the deep crowd oversized pages in this populous gallery of ocean life.

The finny and tentacled sea creatures drifting or arrowing through Zommer’s teeming watercolor seascapes are generally recognizable, and they are livened rather than distorted by the artist’s tendency to place human eyes on the same side of many faces, Picasso-like. Headers such as “Ink-teresting” or “In for the krill” likewise add a playful tone to the pithy comments on anatomical features or behavioral quirks that accompany the figures (which include, though rarely, a white human diver). The topical spreads begin with an overview of ocean families (“Some are hairy, some have scales, some have fins and some are boneless and brainless!”), go on to introduce select animals in no particular order from sea horses and dragonets to penguins and pufferfish, then close with cautionary remarks on chemical pollution and floating plastic. The author invites readers as they go to find both answers to such questions as “Why does a crab run sideways?” and also a small sardine hidden in some, but not all, of the pictures. For the latter he provides a visual key at the end, followed by a basic glossary.

A refreshing dive past some of our world’s marine wonders. (index) (Informational picture book. 6-9)

Pub Date: June 5, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-500-65119-3

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Thames & Hudson

Review Posted Online: April 25, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2018

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A good introduction to observation, data, and trying again.

CECE LOVES SCIENCE

From the Cece and the Scientific Method series

Cece loves asking “why” and “what if.”

Her parents encourage her, as does her science teacher, Ms. Curie (a wink to adult readers). When Cece and her best friend, Isaac, pair up for a science project, they choose zoology, brainstorming questions they might research. They decide to investigate whether dogs eat vegetables, using Cece’s schnauzer, Einstein, and the next day they head to Cece’s lab (inside her treehouse). Wearing white lab coats, the two observe their subject and then offer him different kinds of vegetables, alone and with toppings. Cece is discouraged when Einstein won’t eat them. She complains to her parents, “Maybe I’m not a real scientist after all….Our project was boring.” Just then, Einstein sniffs Cece’s dessert, leading her to try a new way to get Einstein to eat vegetables. Cece learns that “real scientists have fun finding answers too.” Harrison’s clean, bright illustrations add expression and personality to the story. Science report inserts are reminiscent of The Magic Schoolbus books, with less detail. Biracial Cece is a brown, freckled girl with curly hair; her father is white, and her mother has brown skin and long, black hair; Isaac and Ms. Curie both have pale skin and dark hair. While the book doesn’t pack a particularly strong emotional or educational punch, this endearing protagonist earns a place on the children’s STEM shelf.

A good introduction to observation, data, and trying again. (glossary) (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: June 19, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-249960-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Review Posted Online: March 27, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2018

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