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CAPTAIN GREEN AND THE TREE MACHINE

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

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. 19, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

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CARPENTER'S HELPER

Renata’s wren encounter proves magical, one most children could only wish to experience outside of this lovely story.

A home-renovation project is interrupted by a family of wrens, allowing a young girl an up-close glimpse of nature.

Renata and her father enjoy working on upgrading their bathroom, installing a clawfoot bathtub, and cutting a space for a new window. One warm night, after Papi leaves the window space open, two wrens begin making a nest in the bathroom. Rather than seeing it as an unfortunate delay of their project, Renata and Papi decide to let the avian carpenters continue their work. Renata witnesses the birth of four chicks as their rosy eggs split open “like coats that are suddenly too small.” Renata finds at a crucial moment that she can help the chicks learn to fly, even with the bittersweet knowledge that it will only hasten their exits from her life. Rosen uses lively language and well-chosen details to move the story of the baby birds forward. The text suggests the strong bond built by this Afro-Latinx father and daughter with their ongoing project without needing to point it out explicitly, a light touch in a picture book full of delicate, well-drawn moments and precise wording. Garoche’s drawings are impressively detailed, from the nest’s many small bits to the developing first feathers on the chicks and the wall smudges and exposed wiring of the renovation. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10-by-20-inch double-page spreads viewed at actual size.)

Renata’s wren encounter proves magical, one most children could only wish to experience outside of this lovely story. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: March 16, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-12320-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Schwartz & Wade/Random

Review Posted Online: Jan. 12, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2021

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BECAUSE I HAD A TEACHER

A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift.

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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. 13, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

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