ICE BOY

It misses the mark—skip it.

From chunk of ice to evaporation and back again, a young ice cube decides to break away from his ice tray to see what’s beyond his destined outcome.

Readers meet Ice Boy, who leads an ordinary life in the freezer with his siblings, parents, and other ice cubes. The omniscient narrator also explains “Once in a while, someone was taken. Usually for a person’s drink.” Getting “chosen” is “the best thing that could happen to an ice cube.” Opting instead for an extraordinary path, Ice Boy proceeds to sneak out of the freezer, where he embarks on a water-cycle escapade: he wanders to the salty beach, where his “edges…blur,” and he becomes Water Boy; he is then washed in with the tide, plays with seashore wildlife, soaks into a beach towel, begins to steam, and becomes Vapor Boy. Now a cloud and light as air, he rises higher, gets denser, and runs into a thunderstorm, until he freezes and gravity pulls him down to be Ice Boy once more. An allegory for breaking away from the mold, the story doubles as a light lesson on the water cycle. While a mostly blue-gray watercolor palette appropriately fills the spreads, the nuances in the book may fail to charm readers. Despite cheeky dialogue-bubble interjections, Ice Boy may be just too twee to connect with readers, leaving them uninterested in this well-meaning adventure.

It misses the mark—skip it. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: April 11, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-7636-8203-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Feb. 3, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2017

MAMA BUILT A LITTLE NEST

A good bet for the youngest bird-watchers.

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. 3, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2014

ASTRONAUT ANNIE

A solid, small step for diversifying STEM stories.

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. 3, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2018

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