IN THE WIND

A gentle outing for children who are ready for stories of everyday life rather than just objects to name.

A brief rhyming board book for toddlers.

Spurr's earlier board books (In the Garden and At the Beach, both 2012; In the Woods, 2013) featured an adventuresome little boy. Her new slice-of-life story stars an equally joyful little girl who takes pleasure in flying a new kite while not venturing far off the walkway. Oliphant's expressive and light-filled watercolors clearly depict the child's emotions—eager excitement on the way to the park, delight at the kite's flight in the wind, shock when the kite breaks free, dejection, and finally relief and amazement. The rhymes work, though uneven syllable counts in some stanzas interrupt the smooth flow of the verse. The illustrations depict the child with her mass of windblown curls, brown skin, and pronounced facial features as African-American. Her guardian (presumably her mother) is also brown-skinned. It is refreshing to see an African-American family settled comfortably in a suburban setting with single-family homes and a park where the family dog does not need to be leashed.

A gentle outing for children who are ready for stories of everyday life rather than just objects to name. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: March 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-56145-854-7

Page Count: 22

Publisher: Peachtree

Review Posted Online: March 1, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2016

GOODNIGHT, NUMBERS

The joys of counting combine with pretty art and homage to Goodnight Moon.

This bedtime book offers simple rhymes, celebrates the numbers one through 10, and encourages the counting of objects.

Each double-page spread shows a different toddler-and-caregiver pair, with careful attention to different skin tones, hair types, genders, and eye shapes. The pastel palette and soft, rounded contours of people and things add to the sleepy litany of the poems, beginning with “Goodnight, one fork. / Goodnight, one spoon. / Goodnight, one bowl. / I’ll see you soon.” With each number comes a different part in a toddler’s evening routine, including dinner, putting away toys, bathtime, and a bedtime story. The white backgrounds of the pages help to emphasize the bold representations of the numbers in both written and numerical forms. Each spread gives multiple opportunities to practice counting to its particular number; for example, the page for “four” includes four bottles of shampoo and four inlaid dots on a stool—beyond the four objects mentioned in the accompanying rhyme. Each home’s décor, and the array and types of toys and accoutrements within, shows a decidedly upscale, Western milieu. This seems compatible with the patronizing author’s note to adults, which accuses “the media” of indoctrinating children with fear of math “in our country.” Regardless, this sweet treatment of numbers and counting may be good prophylaxis against math phobia.

The joys of counting combine with pretty art and homage to Goodnight Moon. (Picture book. 2-4)

Pub Date: March 7, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-101-93378-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Dec. 5, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2016

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THE HANNAH CHRONICLES

THE ADVENTURES OF HANNAH HADLEY, GIRL SPY: THE DOOR IN THE FLOOR

A familiar story skillfully reimagined for today’s gadget-savvy youth.

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Hannah Hadley is a young special agent who must thwart a clear and present danger to the United States in Hoover’s “smart is cool” young adult novel.

Hannah Hadley might seem like most 13-year-old girls. She enjoys painting, playing with her MP3 player and spending time with friends. But that’s where the similarities end. Hadley doubles as Agent 10-1, among the youngest spies drafted into the CIA’s Div Y department. She’s joined in her missions by her 10-pound Shih Tzu, Kiwi (with whom she communicates telepathically), and her best friend Tommie Claire, a blind girl with heightened senses. When duty calls, the group sneaks to a hidden command center located under the floor of Hadley’s art studio. Her current mission, aptly named “Operation Farmer Jones,” takes her to a secluded farmhouse in Canada. There, al-Qaida terrorists have gathered the necessary ingredients for a particularly devastating nuclear warhead that they intend to fire into America. The villains are joined by the Mad Madam of Mayhem, a physicist for hire whom the terrorists force to complete the weapon of mass destruction. With Charlie Higson’s Young James Bond series and the ongoing 39 Clues novellas, covert missions and secret plans are the plots of choice in much of today’s fiction for young readers, and references to the famed 007 stories abound in Hoover’s tale. But while the plot feels familiar, Hoover’s use of modern slang—albeit strained at times—and gadgets such as the iTouch appeal to today’s youth. Placing girls in adult situations has been a mainstay since Mildred Wirt Benson first introduced readers to Nancy Drew in The Secret of the Old Clock, but Hannah Hadley is like Nancy Drew on steroids. Both are athletic, score well in their studies and have a measure of popularity. Hadley, however, displays a genius-level intellect and near superhuman abilities in her efforts to roust the terrorists—handy skills for a young teen spy who just so happens to get the best grades in school.

A familiar story skillfully reimagined for today’s gadget-savvy youth.

Pub Date: Nov. 15, 2010

ISBN: 978-0615419688

Page Count: 239

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: Jan. 3, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2011

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