A mindful realization of many elements makes a useful centering guide.

STARS BEFORE BEDTIME

A MINDFUL FALL-ASLEEP BOOK

From the Before Bedtime series

The ritual of a bedtime story pairs with activities to calm body and mind.

Children of various racial presentations perform mindfulness exercises just before bedtime. The text promises a “goodbye to the wriggles and the fidgets” and to “let the calm feelings in.” Most of the double-page spreads contain two key elements: a greatly abbreviated account of a classic Greek myth that inspired particular constellations, complete with literal and symbolic images of the stars, and instructions for mindfulness exercises that relate to the tale in some way, textually identified by a lavender crescent moon. Activities include conscious breathing, body stretches, and/or visual imagery. For example, the page with Draco the snakelike dragon accompanies an exercise to stretch out on the bed then breathe out with a hiss. “Notes for Grown-Ups” bookend the text, relating suggested reading strategies and the benefits of mindfulness. The tales are made kid-friendly (“Zeus fell in love again”) but include just the barest minimum of storyline. There is a nice variety of calming exercises with easy transitions from the tales, forming a cohesive presentation. Blues and yellows blanket the pages, with accenting pinks, creams, and browns. The pictures appear as if they were sometimes made with crayon or cut paper, helping to create a childlike style, with lots of details to peruse in the backgrounds of bedrooms or night skies.

A mindful realization of many elements makes a useful centering guide. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-7112-5557-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Wide Eyed Editions

Review Posted Online: Jan. 21, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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Bruce Goldstone’s Awesome Autumn (2012) is still the gold standard.

HELLO AUTUMN!

Rotner follows Hello Spring (2017) with this salute to the fall season.

Name a change seen in northern climes in fall, and Rotner likely covers it here, from plants, trees, and animals to the food we harvest: seeds are spread, the days grow shorter and cooler, the leaves change and fall (and are raked up and jumped in), some animals migrate, and many families celebrate Halloween and Thanksgiving. As in the previous book, the photographs (presented in a variety of sizes and layouts, all clean) are the stars here, displaying both the myriad changes of the season and a multicultural array of children enjoying the outdoors in fall. These are set against white backgrounds that make the reddish-orange print pop. The text itself uses short sentences and some solid vocabulary (though “deep sleep” is used instead of “hibernate”) to teach readers the markers of autumn, though in the quest for simplicity, Rotner sacrifices some truth. In several cases, the addition of just a few words would have made the following oversimplified statements reflect reality: “Birds grow more feathers”; “Cranberries float and turn red.” Also, Rotner includes the statement “Bees store extra honey in their hives” on a page about animals going into deep sleep, implying that honeybees hibernate, which is false.

Bruce Goldstone’s Awesome Autumn (2012) is still the gold standard. (Informational picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-8234-3869-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: June 27, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2017

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A simple but effective look at a keystone species.

IF YOU TAKE AWAY THE OTTER

Sea otters are the key to healthy kelp forests on the Pacific coast of North America.

There have been several recent titles for older readers about the critical role sea otters play in the coastal Pacific ecosystem. This grand, green version presents it to even younger readers and listeners, using a two-level text and vivid illustrations. Biologist Buhrman-Deever opens as if she were telling a fairy tale: “On the Pacific coast of North America, where the ocean meets the shore, there are forests that have no trees.” The treelike forms are kelp, home to numerous creatures. Two spreads show this lush underwater jungle before its king, the sea otter, is introduced. A delicate balance allows this system to flourish, but there was a time that hunting upset this balance. The writer is careful to blame not the Indigenous peoples who had always hunted the area, but “new people.” In smaller print she explains that Russian explorations spurred the development of an international fur trade. Trueman paints the scene, concentrating on an otter family threatened by formidable harpoons from an abstractly rendered person in a small boat, with a sailing ship in the distance. “People do not always understand at first the changes they cause when they take too much.” Sea urchins take over; a page turn reveals a barren landscape. Happily, the story ends well when hunting stops and the otters return…and with them, the kelp forests.

A simple but effective look at a keystone species. (further information, select bibliography, additional resources) (Informational picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: May 26, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-7636-8934-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Jan. 28, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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