Daniel has enabled a full deep breath on every page of this gentle, relaxing book, which engages without overloading and...

ONCE IN A BLUE MOON

Four-line poems lend a magical quality to a series of simple experiences witnessed once in a blue moon.

Daniel’s childlike illustrations, done in pencil and colored with flat fields of acrylic gouache in rich colors, accompany each poem, serving to frame moments in nature as special events. The format allows readers to go slowly and serves as an excellent way for children to become aware of nonrhyming poetic forms. It also conveys the sense of wonder that comes when taking a quiet moment to appreciate that which is not immediately “entertaining” in the modern sense. The repetition of the titular phrase, “Once in a blue moon,” and brevity of each poem make for a soothing bedtime read-aloud, but the book will also work well as a calm break in a busy day, and it is ripe with inspirations for further activities such as painting a similar scene and writing nonrhyming verses to reflect serene moments. Each “I” in the book can apply to children from many walks of life, as those depicted have different skin colors and hair textures and are in different environments in nature. Many may be close to readers’ own accessible experiences, while those that are different can inspire imagination about how other kids see the world.

Daniel has enabled a full deep breath on every page of this gentle, relaxing book, which engages without overloading and lends a specialness to things too easy to miss in the natural world. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 3, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-55498-975-1

Page Count: 56

Publisher: Groundwood

Review Posted Online: Aug. 21, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2017

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A good bet for the youngest bird-watchers.

MAMA BUILT A LITTLE NEST

Echoing the meter of “Mary Had a Little Lamb,” Ward uses catchy original rhymes to describe the variety of nests birds create.

Each sweet stanza is complemented by a factual, engaging description of the nesting habits of each bird. Some of the notes are intriguing, such as the fact that the hummingbird uses flexible spider web to construct its cup-shaped nest so the nest will stretch as the chicks grow. An especially endearing nesting behavior is that of the emperor penguin, who, with unbelievable patience, incubates the egg between his tummy and his feet for up to 60 days. The author clearly feels a mission to impart her extensive knowledge of birds and bird behavior to the very young, and she’s found an appealing and attractive way to accomplish this. The simple rhymes on the left page of each spread, written from the young bird’s perspective, will appeal to younger children, and the notes on the right-hand page of each spread provide more complex factual information that will help parents answer further questions and satisfy the curiosity of older children. Jenkins’ accomplished collage illustrations of common bird species—woodpecker, hummingbird, cowbird, emperor penguin, eagle, owl, wren—as well as exotics, such as flamingoes and hornbills, are characteristically naturalistic and accurate in detail.

A good bet for the youngest bird-watchers.   (author’s note, further resources) (Informational picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 18, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4424-2116-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Beach Lane/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Jan. 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2014

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A solid, small step for diversifying STEM stories.

ASTRONAUT ANNIE

What does Annie want to be?

As career day approaches, Annie wants to keep her job choice secret until her family sees her presentation at school. Readers will figure it out, however, through the title and clues Tadgell incorporates into the illustrations. Family members make guesses about her ambitions that are tied to their own passions, although her brother watches as she completes her costume in a bedroom with a Mae Jemison poster, starry décor, and a telescope. There’s a celebratory mood at the culminating presentation, where Annie says she wants to “soar high through the air” like her basketball-playing mother, “explore faraway places” like her hiker dad, and “be brave and bold” like her baker grandmother (this feels forced, but oven mitts are part of her astronaut costume) so “the whole world will hear my exciting stories” like her reporter grandfather. Annie jumps off a chair to “BLAST OFF” in a small illustration superimposed on a larger picture depicting her floating in space with a reddish ground below. It’s unclear if Annie imagines this scene or if it’s her future-self exploring Mars, but either scenario fits the aspirational story. Backmatter provides further reading suggestions and information about the moon and four women astronauts, one of whom is Jemison. Annie and her family are all black.

A solid, small step for diversifying STEM stories. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 6, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-88448-523-0

Page Count: 36

Publisher: Tilbury House

Review Posted Online: Feb. 4, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2018

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