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He may be a master of suspense, but the only mystery surrounding Coben’s first foray into picture books may be why he wrote...

When his mother instructs him to set the table for an extended family dinner, Walden rebels; he’d rather have an adventure than deal with boring relatives.

Walden gets his wish when one of his crayon drawings sucks him into the art on the fridge. Hopping from one bit of refrigerator detritus to the next, he moves through coupons, photographs, ads, and more, eventually escaping with a better appreciation for home. The narrative is composed primarily of Walden’s expository exclamations as he moves from ticket stub to birthday invitation and beyond. The intention here appears to be to inspire kids to use what’s stuck on their own home fridges to create their own adventures. Yet Walden’s travels are so arbitrary and without plot that when at last he escapes the fridge, the statement that home with family is “the best PLACE in the WHOLE WORLD” is unearned. Debut artist Tinari, whose art Coben discovered on the wall of one of his favorite restaurants, brings to the book a wild sensibility; she’s unafraid to toy with panels, styles, and narrative jump-cuts, and the text is hand-lettered, with frequent and distracting changes in style. Readers may occasionally have difficulty connecting to her figures, since they do not always resemble one another from one page to the next.

He may be a master of suspense, but the only mystery surrounding Coben’s first foray into picture books may be why he wrote such a convoluted hodgepodge. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Feb. 16, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-525-42803-9

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 7, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2015

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Nice enough but not worth repeat reads.

Emma deals with jitters before playing the guitar in the school talent show.

Pop musician Kevin Jonas and his wife, Danielle, put performance at the center of their picture-book debut. When Emma is intimidated by her very talented friends, the encouragement of her younger sister, Bella, and the support of her family help her to shine her own light. The story is straightforward and the moral familiar: Draw strength from your family and within to overcome your fears. Employing the performance-anxiety trope that’s been written many times over, the book plods along predictably—there’s nothing really new or surprising here. Dawson’s full-color digital illustrations center a White-presenting family along with Emma’s three friends of color: Jamila has tanned skin and wears a hijab; Wendy has dark brown skin and Afro puffs; and Luis has medium brown skin. Emma’s expressive eyes and face are the real draw of the artwork—from worry to embarrassment to joy, it’s clear what she’s feeling. A standout double-page spread depicts Emma’s talent show performance, with a rainbow swirl of music erupting from an amp and Emma rocking a glam outfit and electric guitar. Overall, the book reads pretty plainly, buoyed largely by the artwork. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Nice enough but not worth repeat reads. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: March 29, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-35207-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Razorbill/Penguin

Review Posted Online: Feb. 8, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2022

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A good bet for the youngest bird-watchers.

Echoing the meter of “Mary Had a Little Lamb,” Ward uses catchy original rhymes to describe the variety of nests birds create.

Each sweet stanza is complemented by a factual, engaging description of the nesting habits of each bird. Some of the notes are intriguing, such as the fact that the hummingbird uses flexible spider web to construct its cup-shaped nest so the nest will stretch as the chicks grow. An especially endearing nesting behavior is that of the emperor penguin, who, with unbelievable patience, incubates the egg between his tummy and his feet for up to 60 days. The author clearly feels a mission to impart her extensive knowledge of birds and bird behavior to the very young, and she’s found an appealing and attractive way to accomplish this. The simple rhymes on the left page of each spread, written from the young bird’s perspective, will appeal to younger children, and the notes on the right-hand page of each spread provide more complex factual information that will help parents answer further questions and satisfy the curiosity of older children. Jenkins’ accomplished collage illustrations of common bird species—woodpecker, hummingbird, cowbird, emperor penguin, eagle, owl, wren—as well as exotics, such as flamingoes and hornbills, are characteristically naturalistic and accurate in detail.

A good bet for the youngest bird-watchers.   (author’s note, further resources) (Informational picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 18, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4424-2116-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Beach Lane/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Jan. 3, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2014

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