A tight little collection of verse with a purpose.

READ REVIEW

OTTERS, SNAILS AND TADPOLE TAILS

Who lives in the wetlands? This collection offers 18 short poetical answers.

“The salamander and her kin / sneak around in slimy skin, / and as for status, live within / the family amphibian.” Readers also learn their blood is cold and they live on pond and land. The frog poem is a rhyming list of nicknames that give clues to their habits. Some poems offer less information than others. The dragonfly and its metamorphosis are smartly described in an almost-haiku, whereas the turtle is merely compared to a capsized boat. Readers learn what a raccoon eats and that ducks don’t mind the rain. The snail has “A helmet home / upon her back, / a head, / a tail, / a silvery track. / A single foot / to scoot along, / without a whispered word / or song.” Garter snakes, diving beetles, herons, the cattail, and the fiddlehead all get a page or two of short-lined rhyming text. Harper’s watercolors in washes of greens and yellows or with realistic wetland backdrops show mostly realistic flora and fauna (the beaver and otters are a bit anthropomorphized) in fine detail. The absence of aftermatter or supplemental information limits its flexibility.

A tight little collection of verse with a purpose. (Picture book/poetry. 5-10)

Pub Date: March 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-61067-747-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Kane Miller

Review Posted Online: Jan. 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2019

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This ambitious introduction to an important concept tries too hard to pigeonhole people, places, and things

NOUNS SAY "WHAT'S THAT?"

From the Word Adventures: Parts of Speech series

Anthropomorphized representations of a person, a place, and a thing introduce readers to nouns.

The protagonists are Person, a green, hairy, Cousin Itt–looking blob; Place, a round, blue, globe-ish being (stereotypically implied female by eyelashes and round pigtails); and Thing, a pink cloud with limbs, a porkpie hat, and red glasses. They first introduce the word “noun” and then start pointing out the nouns that fall under each of their categories. In their speech balloons, these vocabulary words are set in type that corresponds to the speaker’s color: “Each wheel is a thing noun,” says Thing, and “wheel” is set in red. Readers join the three as they visit a museum, pointing out the nouns they see along the way and introducing proper and collective nouns and ways to make nouns plural. Confusingly, though, Person labels the “bus driver” a “person noun” on one page, but two spreads later, Thing says “Abdar is a guard. Mrs. Mooney is a ticket taker. Their jobs are things that are also nouns.” Similarly, a group of athletes is a person noun—“team”—but “flock” and “pack” are things. Lowen’s digital illustrations portray a huge variety of people who display many skin and hair colors, differing abilities, and even religious and/or cultural markers (though no one is overweight). Backmatter includes a summary of noun facts, a glossary, an index (not seen), critical-thinking questions, and a list of further reading. Books on seven other parts of speech release simultaneously.

This ambitious introduction to an important concept tries too hard to pigeonhole people, places, and things . (Informational picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5158-4058-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Picture Window Books

Review Posted Online: May 12, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2019

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A lavishly illustrated art book with a self-indulgent purpose that may appeal to adults but misses the mark for children’s...

BRER RABBIT RETOLD

A successful reclamation project—or one that adds to an already-problematic literary history?

Flowers identifies Joel Chandler Harris’ Brer Rabbit stories—tales collected from slaves on a Georgia plantation—as his source material. Harris sought to justify slavery as beneficial to both masters and (contented) slaves, making the stories “narrative minstrelsy.” Flowers writes that as Harris took the slaves’ stories “for his purposes, I’m taking them back for mine.” Throughout this anthology of cultural, visual, and linguistic juxtapositions, readers must wonder what, exactly, is Flowers’ purpose and intended audience for this book? In the 21 tales—some familiar, some less so—the language echoes Black English Vernacular, though inconsistently, while the art, which Indian artist Chitara created in red, black, and white, seems to belong in some other story. Given the histories of colonialism in India and slavery in America, merging these two cultures could create some productive synergy. But due to linguistic inconsistencies and because many of the musical elements—sung or chanted by Flowers on the accompanying CD—translate poorly into text, this mashup results in more confusion than cross-cultural understanding. Though beautiful, Chitara’s art features animals in static poses, some of which are so stylized that young readers may have difficulty using them to make sense of the stories.

A lavishly illustrated art book with a self-indulgent purpose that may appeal to adults but misses the mark for children’s literature. (Picture book/folk tales. 5-10, adult)

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2017

ISBN: 978-93-83145-46-1

Page Count: 72

Publisher: Tara Publishing

Review Posted Online: Aug. 2, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2017

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