Straightforward—with a little bit of fun

AROUND THE WORLD RIGHT NOW

Time zones are not always easy to understand.

This book starts out in San Francisco, California, at 6 a.m. with a yawning city dweller looking out on a cable car. Each page uses the same format with the time spelled out on the top (“It’s seven o’clock in the morning”) and the phrase “And somewhere in the world…” at the bottom. In between, there is a descriptive sentence usually identifying a city and country (or state in the U.S.) for each zone, traveling eastward. A full-bleed painting, often featuring comical animals as well as humans and sights, illustrates each page. (For most locales, residents are depicted, but occasionally only white visitors are seen, as at the Taj Mahal and South Pole Station). There is a timepiece in each picture to look for. Occasionally there are grown-up jokes. “A girl from Ipanema goes walking on a beach” in Rio. Visual jokes for younger readers also appear. At noon, one penguin in the South Sandwich Islands in the southern Atlantic poses for another drawing a picture. Famous tourist sites are often the focus. Eventually, the scene returns to San Francisco, but not before a moose nonchalantly walks through the streets of Anchorage, Alaska, at 5 a.m. There are two pages of explanatory material, including instructions for making a sundial. Unfortunately, there is no world map delineating the zones.

Straightforward—with a little bit of fun . (Informational picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: May 15, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-58536-976-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sleeping Bear Press

Review Posted Online: March 6, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2017

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Sweet—and savory.

THE KEEPER OF WILD WORDS

When a girl visits her grandmother, a writer and “grand friend,” she is seeking something special to share at show and tell on the first day of school.

Before Brook can explain, Mimi expresses concern that certain words describing the natural world will disappear if someone doesn’t care for and use them. (An author’s note explains the author’s motivation: She had read of the removal of 100 words about outdoor phenomena from the Oxford Junior Dictionary.) The duo sets out to search for and experience the 19 words on Mimi’s list, from “acorn” and “buttercup” to “violet” and “willow.” Kloepper’s soft illustrations feature green and brown earth tones that frame the white, matte pages; bursts of red, purple, and other spot colors enliven the scenes. Both Mimi and Brook are depicted as white. The expedition is described in vivid language, organized as free verse in single sentences or short paragraphs. Key words are printed in color in a larger display type and capital letters. Sensory details allow the protagonist to hear, see, smell, taste, and hold the wild: “ ‘Quick! Make a wish!’ said Mimi, / holding out a DANDELION, / fairy dust sitting on a stem. / ‘Blow on it and the seeds will fly. / Your tiny wishes in the air.’ ” It’s a day of wonder, with a touch of danger and a solution to Brook’s quest. The last page forms an envelope for readers’ own vocabulary collections.

Sweet—and savory. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: March 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4521-7073-2

Page Count: 62

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2020

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Cute and brave—gee, Rot’s spud-tacular!

ROT, THE BRAVEST IN THE WORLD!

A “scaredy-spud” puts on his brave face.

All “mutant potatoes” love mud. Mud is good for playing games, eating, and even sleeping. But few taters have more tender feelings toward muck than Rot. À la Pete the Cat, Rot celebrates mud in song: “Mud between my toes! / Mud in my nose! / Mud is GREAT / wherever it GOES!” When Rot’s big brother, Snot, tells Rot about the Squirm that lives “deep down in the mushy muck,” his love quickly turns to fear. But he doesn’t give up! Instead, Rot imagines himself in various disguises to work up courage. There’s “Super Spud” (a superhero), “Sir Super Rot, the Brave and Bold” (a superhero-knight), and even “Sir Super Rot the Pigtato” (a, um, superhero-knight-pig-potato). The disguises are one thing, but, deep down, is Rot really brave enough to face the Squirm? Readers wooed by Rot’s charm in Rot: The Cutest in the World (2017) will laugh out loud at this well-paced encore—and it’s not just because of the butt cracks. Clanton creates a winning dynamic, balancing Rot’s earnestness, witty dialogue, and an omniscient, slightly melodramatic narrator. The cartoon illustrations were created using watercolors, colored pencils, digital collage, and—brilliantly—potato stamps. Clanton’s reliance on earth tones makes for some clever, surprising page turns when the palette is broken.

Cute and brave—gee, Rot’s spud-tacular! (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: June 16, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4814-6764-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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