This metaphor for death is just too metaphorical to succeed.



A brightly colored blob arrives in Flatland, makes relationships and builds a community, then leaves.

At the beginning of the story, Owuza is just a collection of concentric, digitally collaged, uneven circles—“no more than a speck.” He develops what look to be eyes, hair and a body, and he carries his heart in his outstretched hand. He finds friends in Flatland; they share stories and songs, create “beautiful things,” help and heal. Then one day, Owuza is gone from Flatland. The Flatlanders look for him but do not find him—until they reach out to one another, and “there, in the center of them all, was Owuza. In all that they shared, he was with them always.” Apparently written in response to the death of his daughter, Sayre’s tale strives to be elemental but ends up simply oblique. It never leaves the mythic plane it begins on, keeping readers at a distance. Children are unlikely to understand what’s going on with either Owuza’s departure or his “reappearance” among the Flatlanders. Emberley’s illustrations pop, placing rough-edged, circular yellow, turquoise, lime-green and fuchsia shapes against a terra-cotta background; in the reiteration of concentric shapes and dots, her designs echo Aboriginal art. In this way, they are an apt emotional and conceptual complement to the text, but they do little to illuminate it for young readers.

This metaphor for death is just too metaphorical to succeed. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-99129-350-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Two Little Birds

Review Posted Online: Aug. 27, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2014

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A slight addition to a seasonal collection redeemed by its striking illustrations.


A dialogic approach to the turn of the seasons.

A young child, with beige skin and dark hair, and a white dog walk through the darkened, snowy countryside. They greet the snow and the winter night; a frozen pond and an empty nest; and even a glass house. Each in turn answers back, offering insight into their experience of the chilly atmosphere. Following a wordless spread that serves as a pictorial climax, the season shifts toward spring, with increased sunlight, warmth, melting snow, and the renewed presence of songbirds and flowers. The world has come to life again, and the child and dog run through green fields sparsely patched with retreating snow. The contrasting color palettes and geometric shapes in the accumulating spreads effectively evoke the stark darkness of winter and the bright warmth of spring. Ground-level and bird’s-eye perspectives of the rural setting and tiny details reward eagle-eyed readers. The rapid change from nocturnal winter storm to bright, green spring day seems a bit contrived, underscoring the book’s premise of transition and metamorphosis. Moreover, the child’s conversation with the natural world at times leaves readers unclear of who is speaking, which may cause confusion during a read-aloud. This is the third book in Pak’s seasonal cycle.

A slight addition to a seasonal collection redeemed by its striking illustrations. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Feb. 18, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-15172-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Nov. 10, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2019

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Cool and stylish.


Her intellectual curiosity is surpassed only by her passion for science. But what to do about her messy experiments?

Ada is speechless until she turns 3. But once she learns how to break out of her crib, there’s no stopping the kinky-haired, brown-skinned girl. “She tore through the house on a fact-finding spree.” When she does start speaking, her favorite words are “why,” “how,” and “when.” Her parents, a fashion-forward black couple who sport a variety of trendy outfits, are dumbfounded, and her older brother can only point at her in astonishment. She amazes her friends with her experiments. Ada examines all the clocks in the house, studies the solar system, and analyzes all the smells she encounters. Fortunately, her parents stop her from putting the cat in the dryer, sending her instead to the Thinking Chair. But while there, she covers the wall with formulae. What can her parents do? Instead of punishing her passion, they decide to try to understand it. “It’s all in the heart of a young scientist.” Though her plot is negligible—Ada’s parents arguably change more than she does—Beaty delightfully advocates for girls in science in her now-trademark crisply rhyming text. Roberts’ illustrations, in watercolor, pen, and ink, manage to be both smart and silly; the page compositions artfully evoke the tumult of Ada’s curiosity, filling white backgrounds with questions and clutter.

Cool and stylish. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 6, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4197-2137-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: July 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2016

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