Skip the poems and enjoy the cheerful artwork and entertaining prose.

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IMAGINE THE MOON

A PRIMER OF FULL MOON NAMES

From January’s Wolf Moon to December’s Cold Moon, a survey of moon monikers.

Each of the 12 moons is given a double-page spread that features a watercolor illustration, a couplet, and a column of text. The name of each month’s moon leads to several lively, informative paragraphs, sometimes directly related to the moon’s name—as with Worm Moon, Sturgeon Moon, and Buck Moon—and sometimes not. For example, the Wolf Moon column segues from the sound of a wolf howling to a short list of songs about the moon, then to a historical note about cosmic microwave background radiation—the “birthday song” of the universe. Had the couplets been strong, they might serve preschool readers as an alternative to these relatively lengthy passages. However, they offer little more than either stumbling near rhymes or smooth banality, as in “Pink Moon / blooms in the April sky, / promises of spring tucked on high.” Most illustrations are far superior to those in the similarly themed Full Moon Lore, by Ellen Wahi and illustrated by Ashley Stewart (2017), despite some awkwardly rendered mammals. The strength of the book lies in the choices and organization of the prose text. Even adults will be charmed by the deft combination of science, mythology, humor, and agricultural facts, though readers will search largely in vain for specific cultural notes as to the individual moons’ names.

Skip the poems and enjoy the cheerful artwork and entertaining prose. (Informational picture book. 4-9)

Pub Date: May 10, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-945268-02-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Plum Street Publishers

Review Posted Online: March 6, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2017

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Whimsy, intelligence, and a subtle narrative thread make this rise to the top of a growing list of self-love titles.

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YOU MATTER

Employing a cast of diverse children reminiscent of that depicted in Another (2019), Robinson shows that every living entity has value.

After opening endpapers that depict an aerial view of a busy playground, the perspective shifts to a black child, ponytails tied with beaded elastics, peering into a microscope. So begins an exercise in perspective. From those bits of green life under the lens readers move to “Those who swim with the tide / and those who don’t.” They observe a “pest”—a mosquito biting a dinosaur, a “really gassy” planet, and a dog whose walker—a child in a pink hijab—has lost hold of the leash. Periodically, the examples are validated with the titular refrain. Textured paint strokes and collage elements contrast with uncluttered backgrounds that move from white to black to white. The black pages in the middle portion foreground scenes in space, including a black astronaut viewing Earth; the astronaut is holding an image of another black youngster who appears on the next spread flying a toy rocket and looking lonely. There are many such visual connections, creating emotional interest and invitations for conversation. The story’s conclusion spins full circle, repeating opening sentences with new scenarios. From the microscopic to the cosmic, word and image illuminate the message without a whiff of didacticism.

Whimsy, intelligence, and a subtle narrative thread make this rise to the top of a growing list of self-love titles. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5344-2169-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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Cool and stylish.

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ADA TWIST, SCIENTIST

Her intellectual curiosity is surpassed only by her passion for science. But what to do about her messy experiments?

Ada is speechless until she turns 3. But once she learns how to break out of her crib, there’s no stopping the kinky-haired, brown-skinned girl. “She tore through the house on a fact-finding spree.” When she does start speaking, her favorite words are “why,” “how,” and “when.” Her parents, a fashion-forward black couple who sport a variety of trendy outfits, are dumbfounded, and her older brother can only point at her in astonishment. She amazes her friends with her experiments. Ada examines all the clocks in the house, studies the solar system, and analyzes all the smells she encounters. Fortunately, her parents stop her from putting the cat in the dryer, sending her instead to the Thinking Chair. But while there, she covers the wall with formulae. What can her parents do? Instead of punishing her passion, they decide to try to understand it. “It’s all in the heart of a young scientist.” Though her plot is negligible—Ada’s parents arguably change more than she does—Beaty delightfully advocates for girls in science in her now-trademark crisply rhyming text. Roberts’ illustrations, in watercolor, pen, and ink, manage to be both smart and silly; the page compositions artfully evoke the tumult of Ada’s curiosity, filling white backgrounds with questions and clutter.

Cool and stylish. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 6, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4197-2137-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: July 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2016

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