Distinctive, luminous illustrations delight the eye, although visually the story lacks complete cohesion.

RED SKY AT NIGHT

Paired with cut-paper diorama illustrations, folk sayings that predict weather become a story in this picture book.

Author/illustrator MacKay begins with the saying “Red sky at night, sailor’s delight,” and the accompanying illustration shows a family—an older man and two young children—peering out the window of their cozy house into a red sunset. MacKay creates her illustrations by using cutout paper drawings placed in dioramas, lit, and then photographed. This technique achieves remarkable luminosity and a three-dimensional aspect, with the overall impression being that of looking into a magical stage set. The drawback, though, is that while MacKay does link story elements within the illustrations (the children appear throughout), the individual pictures still don’t agreeably mesh because the light in each one is different, giving a subtle, disparate impression. The organization of weather-related folk sayings into a story of a family sailing, fishing, camping, and then heading home as a storm threatens is original and works well. Too, it may nudge readers to become more curious about their natural world (backmatter gives explanations behind the sayings). And the illustrations—individually—are mesmerizing. Both children and caregiver have beige skin and tightly curled hair, suggesting mixed heritage.

Distinctive, luminous illustrations delight the eye, although visually the story lacks complete cohesion. (Picture book. 3-8)

Pub Date: May 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-101-91783-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Tundra Books

Review Posted Online: March 4, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2018

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A delightful story of love and hope.

OUR SUBWAY BABY

Families are formed everywhere—including large metropolitan mass-transit systems!

Baby Kevin, initially known as “Danny ACE Doe,” was found in the New York City’s 14th Street subway station, which serves the A-C-E lines, by one of his future fathers, Danny. Kevin’s other father, Pete (author Mercurio), serves as the narrator, explaining how the two men came to add the newborn to their family. Readers are given an abridged version of the story from Danny and Pete’s point of view as they work to formally adopt Kevin and bring him home in time for Christmas. The story excels at highlighting the determination of loving fathers while still including realistic moments of hesitation, doubt, and fear that occur for new and soon-to-be parents. The language is mindful of its audience (for example using “piggy banks” instead of “bank accounts” to discuss finances) while never patronizing young readers. Espinosa’s posterlike artwork—which presents the cleanest New York readers are ever likely to see—extends the text and makes use of unexpected angles to heighten emotional scenes and moments of urgency. The diversity of skin tones, ages, and faces (Danny and Pete both present white, and Kevin has light brown skin) befits the Big Apple. Family snapshots and a closing author’s note emphasize that the most important thing in any family is love. (This book was reviewed digitally with 11.3-by-18-inch double-page spreads viewed at 43% of actual size.)

A delightful story of love and hope. (Informational picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-42754-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2020

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A good choice for a late fall storytime.

SNACK, SNOOZE, SKEDADDLE

HOW ANIMALS GET READY FOR WINTER

Animal behaviors change as they prepare to face the winter.

Migrate, hibernate, or tolerate. With smooth rhymes and jaunty illustrations, Salas and Gévry introduce three strategies animals use for coping with winter cold. The author’s long experience in imparting information to young readers is evident in her selection of familiar animals and in her presentation. Spread by spread she introduces her examples, preparing in fall and surviving in winter. She describes two types of migration: Hummingbirds and monarchs fly, and blue whales travel to the warmth of the south; earthworms burrow deeper into the earth. Without using technical words, she introduces four forms of hibernation—chipmunks nap and snack; bears mainly sleep; Northern wood frogs become an “icy pop,” frozen until spring; and normally solitary garter snakes snuggle together in huge masses. Those who can tolerate the winter still change behavior. Mice store food and travel in tunnels under the snow; moose grow a warmer kind of fur; the red fox dives into the snow to catch small mammals (like those mice); and humans put on warm clothes and play. The animals in the soft pastel illustrations are recognizable, more cuddly than realistic, and quite appealing; their habitats are stylized. The humans represent varied ethnicities. Each page includes two levels of text, and there’s further information in the extensive backmatter. Pair with Joyce Sidman and Rick Allen’s Winter Bees (2014).

A good choice for a late fall storytime. (glossary) (Informational picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5415-2900-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Millbrook/Lerner

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2019

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