As an invitation to readers to empathize with the other creatures that inhabit our planet, this book is successful—and it is...

A PRAYER FOR THE ANIMALS

This large, colorfully illustrated picture book gives a strong, simple plea on behalf of the animals that inhabit the Earth.

Using spare, carefully chosen words that read like a solemn prayer, Kirk writes and illustrates a supplication to readers to consider the animals. “May they be free of hunger, may they be free of fear,” he writes. While the words give the text gravitas (but add a hint of human dominion over the beasts), the digitally colored pencil illustrations have an accessible feel, painting the animals with slight smiles, for a winsome look. While undeniably carefully illustrated and written, the story has a humancentric bias in its depiction of the animal world, ascribing to them human preferences (“may their hearts and minds be calm”) and ignoring the issue that it is the encroachment, habitat destruction, and predatory behavior of humans that are the greatest threats to the animals. However, young readers will be drawn to the cute animal faces, and the heartfelt text—presenting itself with conscious simplicity and profundity—may instill a sense of empathy for the other creatures of the planet, one that could possibly grow into a greater curiosity to discover more.

As an invitation to readers to empathize with the other creatures that inhabit our planet, this book is successful—and it is very pretty to look at. (author’s note) (Picture book. 2-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 4, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4197-3199-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: June 25, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2018

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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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Beloved Little Blue takes a bit of the mystery—and fear—out of Halloween costumes.

LITTLE BLUE TRUCK'S HALLOWEEN

A lift-the-flap book gives the littlest trick-or-treaters some practice identifying partygoers under their costumes.

Little Blue Truck and his buddy Toad are off to a party, and they invite readers (and a black cat) along for the ride: “ ‘Beep! Beep! Beep!’ / says Little Blue. / ‘It’s Halloween!’ / You come, too.” As they drive, they are surprised (and joined) by many of their friends in costume. “Who’s that in a tutu / striking a pose / up on the tiniest / tips of her toes? / Under the mask / who do you see?” Lifting the flap unmasks a friend: “ ‘Quack!’ says the duck. / ‘It’s me! It’s me!’ ” The sheep is disguised as a clown, the cow’s a queen, the pig’s a witch, the hen and her chick are pirates, and the horse is a dragon. Not to be left out, Little Blue has a costume, too. The flaps are large and sturdy, and enough of the animals’ characteristic features are visible under and around the costumes that little ones will be able to make successful guesses even on the first reading. Lovely curvy shapes and autumn colors fade to dusky blues as night falls, and children are sure to notice the traditional elements of a Halloween party: apple bobbing, lit jack-o’-lanterns, and punch and treats.

Beloved Little Blue takes a bit of the mystery—and fear—out of Halloween costumes. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: July 5, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-544-77253-3

Page Count: 16

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: July 20, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2016

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