THE SONG THAT CALLED THEM HOME

A gorgeous story inspired by Indigenous legends that will lead intrepid readers on a watery adventure.

Lured away by the songs of mystical creatures in the lake, two Indigenous children must find their way home.

On a fishing trip, Lauren and her younger brother, James, take the canoe out on the lake while their grandfather naps on the shore. The water churns, and humanoid creatures called Memekwesewak tip their boat. The children fall into the water. Dismayed, Lauren watches the Memekwesewak disappear with her brother through a waterfall. She follows “the bends and curves of the watery pathway, searching for James,” until she reaches an island and sees him dancing by a fire with the mystical creatures, caught up in the songs. And when Lauren joins him, she soon forgets why she came there. Not until the children hear the faraway drumbeats and rhythms of home do they remember their grandfather. When they stop and listen, they feel the strong pull of family, which causes the Memekwesewak to scatter. Colorful, swirling, and whimsical, the illustrations follow the lively pace of the text. Rich blues and purples capture the beauty of the night sky, bringing to life a captivating story that ultimately hinges on the love of family. An author’s note explains that many Native peoples have told stories of the Memekwesewak, “one of two humanoid races on Mother Earth, the other being humans like you and me.” (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A gorgeous story inspired by Indigenous legends that will lead intrepid readers on a watery adventure. (author’s note) (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: April 4, 2023

ISBN: 9780735266704

Page Count: 52

Publisher: Tundra Books

Review Posted Online: Feb. 7, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2023

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THERE'S A ROCK CONCERT IN MY BEDROOM

Nice enough but not worth repeat reads.

Emma deals with jitters before playing the guitar in the school talent show.

Pop musician Kevin Jonas and his wife, Danielle, put performance at the center of their picture-book debut. When Emma is intimidated by her very talented friends, the encouragement of her younger sister, Bella, and the support of her family help her to shine her own light. The story is straightforward and the moral familiar: Draw strength from your family and within to overcome your fears. Employing the performance-anxiety trope that’s been written many times over, the book plods along predictably—there’s nothing really new or surprising here. Dawson’s full-color digital illustrations center a White-presenting family along with Emma’s three friends of color: Jamila has tanned skin and wears a hijab; Wendy has dark brown skin and Afro puffs; and Luis has medium brown skin. Emma’s expressive eyes and face are the real draw of the artwork—from worry to embarrassment to joy, it’s clear what she’s feeling. A standout double-page spread depicts Emma’s talent show performance, with a rainbow swirl of music erupting from an amp and Emma rocking a glam outfit and electric guitar. Overall, the book reads pretty plainly, buoyed largely by the artwork. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Nice enough but not worth repeat reads. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: March 29, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-35207-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Razorbill/Penguin

Review Posted Online: Feb. 8, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2022

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

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