AFTERNOON ON A HILL

A poem by Edna St. Vincent Millay gets an illustrated treatment.

The 12 lines of Millay’s 1917 poem provide the whole text for this glorious nature outing. “I will be the gladdest thing / Under the sun!” opens the adventure, as the anonymous first-person narrator runs over grassy hills wearing a short-sleeved calico dress and sneakers. The poem can be read literally as realism, but in the illustrations, a fantasy realm grows. When the lines say “I will touch a hundred flowers / And not pick one,” a single flower grows to the scale of a sapling. The heads of massive birds peer out from between trees, their eyes intense and just this side of ominous. A forest, from a long view, is shaped like an animal, absorbing (not reflecting) sunlight even while the narrator’s peachy skin glows with reflected sun. When the poem lets the protagonist “[w]atch the wind bow down the grass, / And the grass rise,” the grass becomes a horizontally billowing ocean for the child to windsurf on, standing upright on an enormous leaf, arms outstretched, hair streaming. The illustrations are all full-bleed spreads; each has a different light. Domeniconi offsets acute, scientific-feeling, almost overpowering visual details on flowers and birds against vague, generic skies and distant trees. At dusk, lights glow in the distant town, and the narrator beds down—nestled in the antlers of a mighty animal, possibly an elk.

Romantic and bracing. (Picture book. 4-9)

Pub Date: March 12, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-56846-334-6

Page Count: 14

Publisher: Creative Editions/Creative Company

Review Posted Online: Jan. 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2019

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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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An adorable adventure in cartography.

CAMILLA, CARTOGRAPHER

An exercise of spatial thinking through a snowy forest.

Camilla the warthog collects maps. Maps of stars, New York, even the London Tube. She even owns an ancient map of her forest. Unfortunately for her, she believes all lands have been explored and there is nothing new to chart. However, with a snowy morning comes a new opportunity. When her hedgehog neighbor, Parsley, asks for her help in finding the creek, Camilla quivers with excitement when she realizes the snow-covered land “is uncharted territory.” With all landmarks covered in snow, Camilla and Parsley must use their spatial-reasoning skills and a compass to find a new way to the creek. Their trailblazing journey proves a challenge as they keep bumping into trees, rocks, and walls. But when they find the creek, Camilla will have all the information and tools ready to draw out a new map, to break out in case of another snowfall. Wood’s delightful illustrations and Dillemuth’s expertise in the matter engage readers in the woodland creatures’ adventures. In addition, Dillemuth, who holds a doctorate in geography, provides activities in the backmatter for parents and caregivers to help children develop their own spatial-reasoning skills, such as sketching and reading maps or using cardinal directions.

An adorable adventure in cartography. (author’s note) (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4338-3033-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Magination/American Psychological Association

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

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