What could have been a calming bedtime story featuring the variety of things found in a library is spoiled by abrasive...

GOOD NIGHT, LIBRARY

Bedtime stories are plentiful, but this one is anything but tender and restful.

In rhyming verse two kids say good night to all kinds of library items. “Good night, library; / Darkness falls. / It’s sleepy time / For these great walls. // Good night, library. / You must be tired / From all the learning / You’ve inspired.” The litany of items the text wishes good night includes poetry and prose, plots, puppet stages, computers, carpet squares, fairy tales, characters, filing cart, and more. This being a fairly modern library, they also bid good night to board games and comic books, but if there is a 3-D printer or makerspace, it goes unremarked. The apparent intent of this homage to libraries is well and good, but the visual execution lacks charm. The cartoonish illustrations are garish double-page spreads that bleed off the pages, and the intensity of the colors makes the pages appear crowded. Exaggeratedly bug-eyed kids act out the rhymes; they are a diverse lot. The librarian, a white woman, wears her hair in a bun but otherwise looks pretty darn hip; she wears a droopy gray sweater, black jeans, and pumps.

What could have been a calming bedtime story featuring the variety of things found in a library is spoiled by abrasive artwork. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: March 15, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-58536-406-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sleeping Bear Press

Review Posted Online: Jan. 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2019

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The combination of haiku, attractive illustrations, and interesting information makes this a keeper.

MORNING, SUNSHINE!

This picture book combines poetry with facts about nature.

Using the arrival of morning as its focus and theme, this nonfiction book provides information about animal, insect, and bird life along with some general natural science. From birds’ singing in the morning through moths’ finding quiet spots to rest as the sun rises to the daily routines of rabbits, foxes, and other animals, readers will discover fascinating facts about Earth’s creatures. Combining entertainment and information, this book not only features the lives of animals, but it also explains why the sky changes color throughout the day and how the Earth’s rotation creates the phenomena of day and night. Each double-page spread highlights a different creature or natural phenomenon; there’s a haiku on verso and on recto, a moderately sized paragraph with both commonly known and more unusual facts. Highlighted words stand out as obvious vocabulary builders; readers can learn their meanings in the appended glossary. The illustrations are large-scale and vivid, with the palette lightening over the course of the book as morning takes hold. Illustrations are graphically simple, with cheerful cartoon animals contributing to the upbeat mood. An added bonus is a page at the back encouraging readers to write their own nature haiku.

The combination of haiku, attractive illustrations, and interesting information makes this a keeper. (Informational picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: March 24, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-62317-385-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: North Atlantic

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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A beautifully poignant celebration of memories of a loved one that live on in those that remain.

THE SOUR CHERRY TREE

With ample emotional subtext, a young girl recalls everyday details about her beloved grandfather the day after his death.

The child bites her mother’s toe to wake her up, wishing that she could have done the same for her baba bozorg, her beloved grandfather, who had forgotten to wake up the day before. She kisses a pancake that reminds her of her grandfather’s face. Her mother, who had been admonishing her for playing with her food, laughs and kisses the pancake’s forehead. Returning to Baba Bozorg’s home, the child sees minute remnants of her grandfather: a crumpled-up tissue, smudgy eyeglasses, and mint wrappers in his coat pockets. From these artifacts the narrator transitions to less tangible, but no less vivid, memories of playing together and looks of love that transcend language barriers. Deeply evocative, Hrab’s narrative captures a child’s understanding of loss with gentle subtlety, and gives space for processing those feelings. Kazemi’s chalk pastel art pairs perfectly with the text and title: Pink cherry hues, smoky grays, and hints of green plants appear throughout the book, concluding in an explosion of vivid green that brings a sense of renewal, joy, and remembrance to the heartfelt ending. Though the story is universally relevant, cultural cues and nods to Iranian culture will resonate strongly with readers of Iranian/Persian heritage. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A beautifully poignant celebration of memories of a loved one that live on in those that remain. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-77147-414-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Owlkids Books

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2021

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An uplifting poetic journey through the beginning of the Book of Genesis.

BOOK OF THE BEGINNING

Sung brings the Creation story to life in a heartfelt work of narrative poetry for children.

The author writes that he “believes everyone should have the opportunity to hear about the bible, especially at a young age.” To that end, this book guides its audience through the first seven days of the world, according to the Book of Genesis. It straightforwardly recounts the familiar story of God’s formation of heaven and Earth from the darkness, and the division of night from day. It then explores God’s separation of heaven and Earth and land and sea on the second and third days, respectively. On the fourth day, he creates the sun, moon, and stars to illuminate the skies, and on the fifth day, he populates the skies and seas with creatures of his design. The sixth day brings forth land-based animals as well as man and woman, to whom God entrusts dominion and stewardship of Creation. On the final day, God deems his work complete, deeming the Sabbath holy and resting. The text is accompanied by page after page of colorful, exuberant crayon illustrations, reminiscent of children’s art. Sung uses poetry to provide a simple and inspiring retelling of the story of Creation. While adhering closely to biblical text, he blends a variety of rhyme schemes as well as free verse elements in a manner that will engage early readers. Clever verses, such as the slant rhyme “The word becomes tangible / God makes all sorts of wild animals,” use familiar language that most youngsters will be able to understand. The book draws upon biblical verses from the English Standard Version, King James Version, New International Version, and other editions, making it accessible for many Christian denominations, and interweaves these references seamlessly, emphasizing the continuity in the Gospel narratives. Overall, Sung offers an entertaining work that will ignite young imaginations while providing a solid introduction to one of the Bible’s most famous stories.

An uplifting poetic journey through the beginning of the Book of Genesis.

Pub Date: Oct. 27, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-973690-39-9

Page Count: 34

Publisher: Westbow Press

Review Posted Online: April 22, 2021

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