Young navigation enthusiasts, from bathtub ships’ captains to ocean-cruiser wannabes, will enjoy this voyage.

BOATS FLOAT!

Ahoy, maties!

As in her Trucks Roll! (2007) and Planes Fly! (2013), Lyon and her co-author celebrate a ubiquitous, well-loved form of transport in verse and launch it along on young readers’ imaginations. Numerous boats of all kinds and sizes, from different cultures and parts of the world and used for a variety of purposes, including play and habitation, are introduced here. Young readers will be awash in vessels plying waterways from rivers to lakes, ponds to bathtubs, and pools to oceans. Front and back endpapers feature a floating parade, and the colorful digital illustrations of the various boats and their environs showcase many shades of watery blue and exude spirited energy. The staunchest of landlubbers will yearn to set sail; one can almost hear the gently lapping waves. Overall, the verses are jaunty, though the rhymes and rhythms are inconsistent, sometimes even a bit clunky. Children will appreciate learning nifty new seafaring terms such as “poop deck,” “head,” “bilibilis,” “wherries,” “coracles,” and “dinghies,” all italicized in the text, as they picture themselves at the helm of any of the boats floating on these pages. In some illustrations, however, it’s not always clear to which boats certain terms refer, so parental sailing expertise may be required.

Young navigation enthusiasts, from bathtub ships’ captains to ocean-cruiser wannabes, will enjoy this voyage. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4814-0380-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: June 29, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2015

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A quiet, thought-provoking story of environmental change and the power humans have to slow it.

THE OLD BOAT

A multigenerational tale of a boat’s life with a Black family, written by two brothers who loved similar boats.

In the opening spread, a smiling, brown-skinned adult dangles a line from the back of a green-and-white boat while a boy peers eagerly over the side at the sea life. The text never describes years passing, but each page turn reveals the boy’s aging, more urban development on the shore, increasing water pollution, marine-life changes (sea jellies abound on one page), and shifting water levels. Eventually, the boy, now a teenager, steers the boat, and as an adult, he fishes alone but must go farther and farther out to sea to make his catch. One day, the man loses his way, capsizes in a storm, and washes up on a small bay island, with the overturned, sunken boat just offshore. Now a “new sailor” cleans up the land and water with others’ help. The physical similarities between the shipwrecked sailor and the “new sailor” suggest that this is not a new person but one whose near-death experience has led to an epiphany that changes his relationship to water. As the decaying boat becomes a new marine habitat, the sailor teaches the next generation (a child with hair in two Afro puffs) to fish. Focusing primarily on the sea, the book’s earth-toned illustrations, created with hundreds of stamps, carry the compelling plot.

A quiet, thought-provoking story of environmental change and the power humans have to slow it. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-324-00517-9

Page Count: 56

Publisher: Norton Young Readers

Review Posted Online: Dec. 25, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2021

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Visual fun overrides textual inadequacies, making this an enjoyable read with an inarguably valuable message.

ELBOW GREASE

If it first you don’t succeed, try getting hit by lightning.

The smallest of his four brothers, Elbow Grease is an electric-powered monster truck with big dreams. Each one of his brothers is tougher, faster, smarter, or braver than he is, but at least he’s got enough “gumption” to spare. That comes in handy when he rushes off to join a Grand Prix in a fit of pique. And while in the end he doesn’t win, he does at least finish thanks to a conveniently placed lightning bolt. That inspires the true winner of the race (Elbow Grease’s hero, Big Wheels McGee) to declare that it’s gumption that’s the true mark of a winner. With his emphasis on trying new things, even if you fail, Cena, a professional wrestler and celebrity, earnestly offers a legitimately inspiring message even if his writing borders on the pedestrian. Fortunately McWilliam’s illustrations give a great deal of life, emotion, action, and mud splatters to the middling text. Humans are few and far between, but the trucks’ keeper, Mel the mechanic, is pictured as a brown-skinned woman with glasses.

Visual fun overrides textual inadequacies, making this an enjoyable read with an inarguably valuable message. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 9, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5247-7350-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: July 24, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2018

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