A nurturing, affirmative, happy tale.

An optimistic little girl’s in for a surprise when she enters a flower contest.

Discovering “hundreds and hundreds of bright, yellow blooms” growing behind Gram’s house, Lucy decides to enter a clump of them in the upcoming Flower Festival, hoping to win a blue ribbon for her grandmother. After transferring blooms into a flowerpot, Lucy returns to Gram, who’s whistling a song. Next morning, Lucy notices her thirsty blooms drooping and whistles as she waters them. That night, Gram tells Lucy a story about daisies, and the following day, when Lucy finds her blooms “curled and crisp” from too much sun, she repeats Gram’s story while shifting them into shade. On the day of the festival, Lucy finds her blooms shriveled from cold, and she revives them with sun, water, whistling, stories, dancing, and love. She enters her blooms in the contest only to learn they’re disqualified as a “bunch of weeds.” Lucy’s disappointed, but her blooms remain winners in her eyes. Using flat patterns, textures, and bright colors, the illustrations reveal Lucy as a dark-haired, wide-eyed, freckled, tan-skinned, smiling girl whose energetic, upbeat personality radiates off the page whether she’s dancing in fields of dandelions, nurturing her pot of dandelions, sharing sunsets and stories with silver-haired Gram (who presents White), or celebrating the shimmering beauty of dandelions going to seed. Close-ups of Lucy reinforce the pervasive theme of love.

A nurturing, affirmative, happy tale. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: April 13, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5132-6719-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: West Margin Press

Review Posted Online: March 1, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2021


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


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