Lovely and life-affirming.

FLOAT

This wordless story, bookended by the creation of two iconic paper toys, follows a Latino boy through outdoor playtime.

After his father folds a boat from a sheet of newspaper with a photo of sailboats on it, the boy sets off in head-to-toe yellow raingear. He shields his boat from a downpour, then floats it in puddles that reflect the tidy neighborhood’s houses and trees. After some joyous puddle-jumping, the boy sets the boat into a sluicing rivulet, pursuing it as it’s swept away. When the boat slips down a grate, the dramatic perspective is from the inky dark underground, the boy futilely stretching an arm through the bars. Washed from a drainage pipe into a stream, the erstwhile boat, now a sodden sheet, is fished out by the dejected lad. He walks home to the comfort of dad’s hug, dry clothes, and expertly blown-dry hair. There’s shared hot cocoa and more newspaper-folding. (This time, a jet’s photo appears.) Digitally rendered in grays accented in yellow, the pictures’ hyper-realistic style is softened by dry-brush effects and the boy’s captured emotions. The penultimate composition looks through the open doorway to the boy on the front porch. Now in shorts and T-shirt, clutching a paper airplane, he’s silhouetted against a square of brilliant yellow sky. That yellow dominates the final spread, celebrating housetops, as the boy readies for his first launch.

Lovely and life-affirming. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: June 9, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4814-1524-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Feb. 23, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2015

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Not astonishingly go-out-and-buy-it-at-graduation inspirational, but all it takes is one seed of change to be planted.

GOING PLACES

Imagination soars—quite literally—when a little girl follows her own set of rules.

Every year Oak Hill School has a go-kart race called the Going Places contest. Students are given identical go-kart kits with a precise set of instructions. And of course, every single kart ends up exactly the same. Every one, that is, except Maya’s. Maya is a dreamy artist, and she would rather sketch birds in her backyard than get caught up in the competition. When she finally does start working, she uses the parts in the go-kart box but creates something completely different. No one ever said it had to be a go-kart. Maya’s creative thinking inspires Rafael, her neighbor (and the most enthusiastic Going Places contestant), to ask to team up. The instructions never say they couldn’t work together, either! An ode to creativity and individuality to be sure, but the Reynolds brothers are also taking a swipe at modern education: Endless repetition and following instructions without question create a culture of conformity. Hopefully now, readers will see infinite possibility every time the system hands them an identical go-kart box.

Not astonishingly go-out-and-buy-it-at-graduation inspirational, but all it takes is one seed of change to be planted. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: March 18, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4424-6608-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: Jan. 15, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2014

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A fair choice, but it may need some support to really blast off.

TINY LITTLE ROCKET

This rocket hopes to take its readers on a birthday blast—but there may or may not be enough fuel.

Once a year, a one-seat rocket shoots out from Earth. Why? To reveal a special congratulatory banner for a once-a-year event. The second-person narration puts readers in the pilot’s seat and, through a (mostly) ballad-stanza rhyme scheme (abcb), sends them on a journey toward the sun, past meteors, and into the Kuiper belt. The final pages include additional information on how birthdays are measured against the Earth’s rotations around the sun. Collingridge aims for the stars with this title, and he mostly succeeds. The rhyme scheme flows smoothly, which will make listeners happy, but the illustrations (possibly a combination of paint with digital enhancements) may leave the viewers feeling a little cold. The pilot is seen only with a 1960s-style fishbowl helmet that completely obscures the face, gender, and race by reflecting the interior of the rocket ship. This may allow readers/listeners to picture themselves in the role, but it also may divest them of any emotional connection to the story. The last pages—the backside of a triple-gatefold spread—label the planets and include Pluto. While Pluto is correctly labeled as a dwarf planet, it’s an unusual choice to include it but not the other dwarfs: Ceres, Eris, etc. The illustration also neglects to include the asteroid belt or any of the solar system’s moons.

A fair choice, but it may need some support to really blast off. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: July 31, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-338-18949-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: David Fickling/Phoenix/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: April 16, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2018

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