A compelling bicontinental story of kinfolk, uniquely illustrated by an artist who’s lived the experience.

OLU & GRETA

A tale of two cousins who find ways to be together despite the distance between them.

Olu lives in Lagos, Nigeria, and Greta lives in Milan, Italy. The narrator emphasizes that since they reside on different continents, they can’t get to each other by walking or skating, by parade or dancing, or several other means. While they could travel by car, boat, or plane, for now, they visit each other virtually and imagine what they might do together when they can meet in person. Ejaita created the illustrations on black paper with colored pencils and digital techniques, and because the characters’ faces and features are drawn on the unillustrated space on each page, Olu and Greta are literally black, with fine white lines that define their features. Perhaps this signals that just as the presence of the color black is ubiquitous in these visuals, Black people can and do live everywhere, countering the notion that people of African descent are monolithic. On nearly every spread, Greta and Olu engage in the same or similar activities, emphasizing that they have a close relationship despite living far apart. Some of Ejaita’s illustrations show the pencil lines, making them highly textured and almost tactile. Along with the dominant black backgrounds, Ejaita, herself of Nigerian and Italian heritage, uses a limited color palette for each spread, giving the book a retro look. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A compelling bicontinental story of kinfolk, uniquely illustrated by an artist who’s lived the experience. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Feb. 15, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-38490-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Rise x Penguin Workshop

Review Posted Online: Aug. 11, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2021

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A good bet for the youngest bird-watchers.

MAMA BUILT A LITTLE NEST

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. 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2014

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A cozy story that will transport readers to faraway places.

A GIFT FOR NANA

All gifts are perfect when they come from the heart.

Rabbit goes on a “journey through a green and grand forest” in order to get a gift for his nana even though it is “not even a major hare holiday.” He travels very far in search of the perfect gift and encounters many new friends whom he asks for help. Each of them proffers Rabbit something they can easily make or acquire: The moon offers a “crescent smile,” a whale proposes a glass of water, and so on. Ultimately, Rabbit finds the perfect gift for Nana all on his own, and his nana absolutely adores it. Although the story is a bit predictable, it is amusing—readers will laugh at the anthropomorphic volcano’s explosion and Rabbit’s exhaustion from his journey, among other chucklesome scenes. Smith’s gesso, oil, and cold wax illustrations are exquisite and almost ethereal. The friendly, many-eyed creature referred to as a “stickler” is at once haunting and intriguing. The moon is Tim Burton–esque and seems to glow and pop off the page. Pleased with his choice of gift, Rabbit has the moon’s smile on his face. The predominance of full-bleed double-page spreads accentuates Rabbit’s long quest. The different font sizes, styles, and colors will aid emerging readers with diction when reading aloud but might prove difficult for those with dyslexia. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A cozy story that will transport readers to faraway places. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: April 12, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-43033-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Random House Studio

Review Posted Online: Jan. 25, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2022

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