For good young readers and patient listeners, environmental good news invitingly presented.

JOURNEY

BASED ON THE TRUE STORY OF OR7, THE MOST FAMOUS WOLF IN THE WEST

In 2011, a wolf collared with a tracking device left his pack in northern Oregon, as young wolves do, and ventured south, becoming the first wolf to enter California since 1924.

In her fictionalization of his travels, Smith alternates OR7's story with that of a young California resident, a Mexican-American girl she calls Abby. Using internet data, Abby tracks the wolf on a map, and she submits a winning name, Journey, in a contest to make the wolf "too famous to harm." (In real life, the backmatter tells us, two children from other states were the contest winners.) The author imagines what Journey senses and thinks along the way. She includes his encounter with a motion-sensor camera, his temporary stay with a pack of coyotes, and his discovery of the young black female, also a wanderer, who became his real-life mate. They’ve settled just north of the border, raised pups, and started a new pack. James’ realistic, finely detailed paintings glory in every hair of the wolves’ fur. Journey’s trek is depicted on double-page spreads; for Abby’s experience, full-page images oppose pages of text, each with a relevant vignette. The backmatter includes an actual photograph. The text and its font size may be challenging for young readers, but the story will appeal.

For good young readers and patient listeners, environmental good news invitingly presented. (timeline, map, further web exploration) (Picture book. 6-10)

Pub Date: Oct. 11, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-63217-065-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sasquatch

Review Posted Online: July 20, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2016

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A lesson that never grows old, enacted with verve by two favorite friends

WAITING IS NOT EASY!

From the Elephant & Piggie series

Gerald the elephant learns a truth familiar to every preschooler—heck, every human: “Waiting is not easy!”

When Piggie cartwheels up to Gerald announcing that she has a surprise for him, Gerald is less than pleased to learn that the “surprise is a surprise.” Gerald pumps Piggie for information (it’s big, it’s pretty, and they can share it), but Piggie holds fast on this basic principle: Gerald will have to wait. Gerald lets out an almighty “GROAN!” Variations on this basic exchange occur throughout the day; Gerald pleads, Piggie insists they must wait; Gerald groans. As the day turns to twilight (signaled by the backgrounds that darken from mauve to gray to charcoal), Gerald gets grumpy. “WE HAVE WASTED THE WHOLE DAY!…And for WHAT!?” Piggie then gestures up to the Milky Way, which an awed Gerald acknowledges “was worth the wait.” Willems relies even more than usual on the slightest of changes in posture, layout and typography, as two waiting figures can’t help but be pretty static. At one point, Piggie assumes the lotus position, infuriating Gerald. Most amusingly, Gerald’s elephantine groans assume weighty physicality in spread-filling speech bubbles that knock Piggie to the ground. And the spectacular, photo-collaged images of the Milky Way that dwarf the two friends makes it clear that it was indeed worth the wait.

A lesson that never grows old, enacted with verve by two favorite friends . (Early reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 4, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4231-9957-1

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Nov. 5, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2014

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A plucky mouse finds her true home in this warm, winning tale.

A TRUE HOME

From the Heartwood Hotel series , Vol. 1

An orphan mouse unexpectedly arrives at Heartwood Hotel, which she hopes will become the home she’s seeking.

Mona’s never had a home for long. After a storm forces her to flee her latest forest shelter, she discovers an enormous tree with a heart carved into its trunk. When Mona presses the heart, a door opens, and she enters the lobby of Heartwood Hotel, where small forest critters hibernate, eat, and celebrate in safety. The kindhearted badger proprietor, Mr. Heartwood, takes pity on homeless Mona, allowing her to stay for the fall to assist the maid, Tilly, a red squirrel. Grateful to be at Heartwood, Mona strives to prove herself despite Tilly’s unfriendly attitude. Mona’s clever approaches with a wounded songbird, an anxious skunk, and a wayward bear win Mr. Heartwood’s approval. But when Mona accidentally breaks a rule, Tilly convinces her she will be fired. As Mona secretly leaves Heartwood, she discovers marauding wolves planning to crash Heartwood’s Snow Festival and devises a daring plan to save the place she regards as home. Charming anthropomorphic characters, humorous mishaps, and outside threats add to the drama. Delicate pencil illustrations reinforce Heartwood’s cozy home theme. A sequel, The Greatest Gift, publishes simultaneously.

A plucky mouse finds her true home in this warm, winning tale. (Animal fantasy. 7-10)

Pub Date: July 4, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4847-3161-1

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: April 17, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2017

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