Books for young listeners about how things are made are relatively rare; this one will stretch to fit a variety of goals.

READ REVIEW

BALLOON TREES

No, these trees don’t bear balloons, but they are the starting place for the production of these popular objects.

Rhyming couplets and effective illustrations describe the general process by which latex is extracted from trees, converted into a colorful mix, shaped into forms, treated and sent to stores to be sold as balloons. Each double-page spread shows a separate step, watched over by what looks like a warbler with an observant eye. (Sharp-eyed observers will even see him through the red balloon on the cover.) At one point, the bird even comes close to becoming part of the process, shaking off the powder that coats each latex form after cooking. As in Smith’s Two at the Zoo (2009), the rhyming text scans well, making this a good choice for an informational read-aloud even for preschoolers. As in all this publisher’s books, there are also reproducible learning activities in the backmatter and available on the Web. Here, the four pages include a map showing where rubber trees grow, comprehension games and a text explanation with vocabulary suitable for elementary school readers. A Spanish edition is also available.

Books for young listeners about how things are made are relatively rare; this one will stretch to fit a variety of goals. (Informational picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Feb. 10, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-60718-612-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sylvan Dell

Review Posted Online: Dec. 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2013

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Whimsy, intelligence, and a subtle narrative thread make this rise to the top of a growing list of self-love titles.

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YOU MATTER

Employing a cast of diverse children reminiscent of that depicted in Another (2019), Robinson shows that every living entity has value.

After opening endpapers that depict an aerial view of a busy playground, the perspective shifts to a black child, ponytails tied with beaded elastics, peering into a microscope. So begins an exercise in perspective. From those bits of green life under the lens readers move to “Those who swim with the tide / and those who don’t.” They observe a “pest”—a mosquito biting a dinosaur, a “really gassy” planet, and a dog whose walker—a child in a pink hijab—has lost hold of the leash. Periodically, the examples are validated with the titular refrain. Textured paint strokes and collage elements contrast with uncluttered backgrounds that move from white to black to white. The black pages in the middle portion foreground scenes in space, including a black astronaut viewing Earth; the astronaut is holding an image of another black youngster who appears on the next spread flying a toy rocket and looking lonely. There are many such visual connections, creating emotional interest and invitations for conversation. The story’s conclusion spins full circle, repeating opening sentences with new scenarios. From the microscopic to the cosmic, word and image illuminate the message without a whiff of didacticism.

Whimsy, intelligence, and a subtle narrative thread make this rise to the top of a growing list of self-love titles. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5344-2169-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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This pleasant look at gardening in a city setting reflects a growing trend.

ANYWHERE FARM

Several inner-city children work together to plant seeds and cultivate their own gardens, transforming their little “anywhere farms” into a lush, green community garden covering a vacant city lot.

A pink-cheeked little girl in overalls receives a single seed from a helpful tan-skinned neighbor on the title page, and she then inspires a flurry of gardening in her neighborhood with children and adults of different ethnicities joining in, including a white boy who uses a wheelchair. The bouncy, rhyming text conveys the basic requirements of growing plants from seeds as well as suggesting a wide variety of unusual containers for growing plants. Several leading questions about the plant growth cycle are interspersed within the story, set in large type on full pages that show a seed gradually sprouting and growing into a huge sunflower on the final, wordless page. The joyful text makes growing flowers and vegetables seem easy, showing plants spilling out of alternative containers as well as more traditional raised beds and the concluding, large garden plot. The text focuses on the titular concept of an “anywhere farm,” without differentiating between farms and gardens, but this conceit is part of the amusing, rollicking tone. Detailed, soft-focus illustrations in mixed media use an autumnal palette of muted green, peach, and tan that don’t quite match the buoyant flavor of the cheerful text.

This pleasant look at gardening in a city setting reflects a growing trend. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 14, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-7636-7499-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Dec. 6, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2016

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