A child-friendly environmental message with an emphasis on teamwork.

CAPTAIN GREEN AND THE TREE MACHINE

The tree-planting machine a young superhero invents explodes with the effort, but he discovers that children working together can help save animals and their forest homes.

Bookless and Deeptown return with this lively follow-up to Captain Green and the Plastic Scene (2018), starring the same environment-loving protagonist. Readers meet him happily inventing something. But, like many young inventors, he’s not sure what it will do. Fate intervenes with calls for help from Hornbill, Elephant, and Orangutan. Trees are being cut, harvested, and burned, and they have no food or homes. The caped, masked hero tweaks his invention to plant trees—but how can he plant so many? His invention blows up with a “BANG!” but the sight of a classroom full of students studying trees reminds him that teamwork can also become a Tree Machine. Captain Green’s language is appealing: “Oh, green gravy!” he expostulates, and “My green-ness, this is fun!” he says as they all plant trees together. Deeptown’s cartoon illustrations show an engaging small White hero, a diverse classroom, and animals that look like animals but whose body language and expressions carry emotion. Most environmental educators would prefer not to burden preschoolers with the issue of environmental destruction, but if it seems necessary, this is lighthearted enough to fill the bill. A spread of backmatter includes concept amplification and reasonable suggestions for helping save forests.

A child-friendly environmental message with an emphasis on teamwork. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Jan. 7, 2021

ISBN: 978-981-48-9320-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Marshall Cavendish

Review Posted Online: Nov. 20, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

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A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift.

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BECAUSE I HAD A TEACHER

A paean to teachers and their surrogates everywhere.

This gentle ode to a teacher’s skill at inspiring, encouraging, and being a role model is spoken, presumably, from a child’s viewpoint. However, the voice could equally be that of an adult, because who can’t look back upon teachers or other early mentors who gave of themselves and offered their pupils so much? Indeed, some of the self-aware, self-assured expressions herein seem perhaps more realistic as uttered from one who’s already grown. Alternatively, readers won’t fail to note that this small book, illustrated with gentle soy-ink drawings and featuring an adult-child bear duo engaged in various sedentary and lively pursuits, could just as easily be about human parent- (or grandparent-) child pairs: some of the softly colored illustrations depict scenarios that are more likely to occur within a home and/or other family-oriented setting. Makes sense: aren’t parents and other close family members children’s first teachers? This duality suggests that the book might be best shared one-on-one between a nostalgic adult and a child who’s developed some self-confidence, having learned a thing or two from a parent, grandparent, older relative, or classroom instructor.

A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-943200-08-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Compendium

Review Posted Online: Dec. 14, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

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A wandering effort, happy but pointless.

DRAGONS LOVE TACOS

From the Dragons Love Tacos series

The perfect book for kids who love dragons and mild tacos.

Rubin’s story starts with an incantatory edge: “Hey, kid! Did you know that dragons love tacos? They love beef tacos and chicken tacos. They love really big gigantic tacos and tiny little baby tacos as well.” The playing field is set: dragons, tacos. As a pairing, they are fairly silly, and when the kicker comes in—that dragons hate spicy salsa, which ignites their inner fireworks—the silliness is sillier still. Second nature, after all, is for dragons to blow flames out their noses. So when the kid throws a taco party for the dragons, it seems a weak device that the clearly labeled “totally mild” salsa comes with spicy jalapenos in the fine print, prompting the dragons to burn down the house, resulting in a barn-raising at which more tacos are served. Harmless, but if there is a parable hidden in the dragon-taco tale, it is hidden in the unlit deep, and as a measure of lunacy, bridled or unbridled, it doesn’t make the leap into the outer reaches of imagination. Salmieri’s artwork is fitting, with a crabbed, ethereal line work reminiscent of Peter Sís, but the story does not offer it enough range.

A wandering effort, happy but pointless. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: June 14, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-8037-3680-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: March 28, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2012

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