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BEAR'S WINTER PARTY

A solid choice on how to overcome isolation and learn to make friends.

Woe is Bear.

Bear lives alone in the forest. There are many other animals there, but they are all afraid of him, and so he has no friends. Summer and fall both pass by slowly, and it’s just about time for Bear’s long winter sleep when he decides to remedy his situation—he will have a party! Inventive and appealing watercolors and the chatty yet straightforward text combine nicely as Bear writes out invitations and delivers them to Deer, Beaver, Fox, Chickadee, Hare, and Squirrel. The afternoon of the event goes by without any visitors, and Bear is just about to give up hope when the animals tentatively peek in. Refreshments are served, followed by dancing, and everyone has a rollicking good time. By the end of the party, Bear’s generosity and kindness have made him some new friends, and he knows he will wake up to a bright future come spring. Some suspension of belief is necessary here; the animals’ initial fear is certainly justified, as bears do feed on some of these creatures, but the story’s lively charm and warmth overcome this hiccup. Cinar’s digitally finished watercolor-and–colored-pencil illustrations are reminiscent of Chris Raschka’s in their splashy ebullience and brushy lines.

A solid choice on how to overcome isolation and learn to make friends. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 13, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-55498-853-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Groundwood

Review Posted Online: June 27, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2016

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THE MOST MAGNIFICENT THING

Spires’ understanding of the fragility and power of the artistic impulse mixes with expert pacing and subtle...

Making things is difficult work. Readers will recognize the stages of this young heroine’s experience as she struggles to realize her vision.

First comes anticipation. The artist/engineer is spotted jauntily pulling a wagonload of junkyard treasures. Accompanied by her trusty canine companion, she begins drawing plans and building an assemblage. The narration has a breezy tone: “[S]he makes things all the time. Easy-peasy!” The colorful caricatures and creations contrast with the digital black outlines on a white background that depict an urban neighborhood. Intermittent blue-gray panels break up the white expanses on selected pages showing sequential actions. When the first piece doesn’t turn out as desired, the protagonist tries again, hoping to achieve magnificence. A model of persistence, she tries many adjustments; the vocabulary alone offers constructive behaviors: she “tinkers,” “wrenches,” “fiddles,” “examines,” “stares” and “tweaks.” Such hard work, however, combines with disappointing results, eventually leading to frustration, anger and injury. Explosive emotions are followed by defeat, portrayed with a small font and scaled-down figures. When the dog, whose expressions have humorously mirrored his owner’s through each phase, retrieves his leash, the resulting stroll serves them well. A fresh perspective brings renewed enthusiasm and—spoiler alert—a most magnificent scooter sidecar for a loyal assistant.

Spires’ understanding of the fragility and power of the artistic impulse mixes with expert pacing and subtle characterization for maximum delight. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: April 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-55453-704-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Kids Can

Review Posted Online: Feb. 25, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2014

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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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