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Ostentation without substance.

A kid’s take on an ancient tale.

Maximilian Midas is the ultimate capitalist. Displaying an infantile obsession with his mother’s gold necklace, by the age of 7 he’s built a fortune, starting with a lemonade stand, then selling the beverage “in stores throughout the land.” Told in an inconsistently metered ABCB rhyme scheme, the story follows the light-skinned boy’s fantastical rise in fortune and continued exploitation of others: sabotaging his competition’s lemonade stand with a dead mouse, charging his parents rent, and finally retreating to a castle overflowing with gold at the top of a mountain, alone with his fortune. When Max gets the bright idea to sprinkle gold dust on his cereal, he, like his namesake, turns into a golden statue, immobile except for “a little tear that Max had saved / Since he was one year old.” He’s magically transformed back into flesh and blood, his gold disappearing into the ether. Max decides to become a more humanitarian capitalist, musing that “Gold can never make you feel / as good as being nice.” Shannon’s oil paintings are detailed and bold, adding a layer of grotesquerie to the already vulgar story. Blending overt moralizing with fantastical elements somewhat muddles the message here, especially since children are less prone to wealth hoarding than adults, and at the end of the book, “mak[ing] millions” is still presented as the solution to problems. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Ostentation without substance. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 6, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-35227-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: June 21, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2022

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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

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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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