Readers with a tolerance for ambiguity will find much to savor.

THE MYSTERIOUS STONES

After dreaming about “his papá, who ha[s] sailed away on the open sea,” young Kiki wakes up to the sound of a mysterious song floating in through his bedroom window.

Drawn by the music, Kiki makes his way to the beach to discover a white-haired woman gathering stones, disappearing into the ocean at the sight of him. Kiki runs in to tell his abuela what he saw, prompting her to share her own story of meeting the strange woman as a young girl. Abuela was gifted some stones by the white-haired woman, and she credits them with saving her sick mother. This gets Kiki thinking. Maybe the Lady of the Stones could help him bring his papá home? Pérez Díaz’s story has a strong folkloric feel to it, and there are some lovely turns of phrase: “Flying fish, shining with foam, danced on the waves.” The illustrations help shape the feel of magic, with their vibrant colors and patterns and whimsical, surreal touches. As with the text, the small details are what stand out. Fish on the ends of musical notes, Abuela’s magic rocks on a windowsill, the patterned rocks on the endpapers. Nevertheless, the book simply ends with a message of hope rather than an active resolution. The smattering of Spanish and Latinx foods and tropical fruits in the illustrations allow it to take place in many Spanish-speaking locales. Characters have beige skin. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10-by-19-inch double-page spreads viewed at 42.4% of actual size.)

Readers with a tolerance for ambiguity will find much to savor. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Nov. 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-62371-869-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Crocodile/Interlink

Review Posted Online: Sept. 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2020

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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 delicious triumph over fear of night creatures.

PIPPA'S NIGHT PARADE

Pippa conquers a fear of the creatures that emerge from her storybooks at night.

Pippa’s “wonderfully wild imagination” can sometimes run “a little TOO wild.” During the day, she wears her “armor” and is a force to be reckoned with. But in bed at night, Pippa worries about “villains and monsters and beasts.” Sharp-toothed and -taloned shadows, dragons, and pirates emerge from her storybooks like genies from a bottle, just to scare her. Pippa flees to her parents’ room only to be brought back time and again. Finally, Pippa decides that she “needs a plan” to “get rid of them once and for all.” She decides to slip a written invitation into every book, and that night, they all come out. She tries subduing them with a lasso, an eye patch, and a sombrero, but she is defeated. Next, she tries “sashes and sequins and bows,” throwing the fashion pieces on the monsters, who…“begin to pose and primp and preen.” After that success, their fashion show becomes a nightly ritual. Clever Pippa’s transformation from scared victim of her own imagination to leader of the monster pack feels fairly sudden, but it’s satisfying nonetheless. The cartoony illustrations effectively use dynamic strokes, shadow, and light to capture action on the page and the feeling of Pippa's fears taking over her real space. Pippa and her parents are brown-skinned with curls of various textures.

A delicious triumph over fear of night creatures. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5420-9300-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Two Lions

Review Posted Online: June 25, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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