For settings that would value the rhymes in separate packages, sturdy, serviceable efforts.


One of a quartet of board books of familiar nursery rhymes.

Cover images of a smiling, spotted cartoon cow jumping over a beaming moon stand out against a dark background. Liberal use of patterning, such as a subtle blue stripe in the night sky, gives the otherwise flat illustrations depth. A view of a cat sleeping in a window on the first, wordless page hints at what is to come, and sure enough it takes out its fiddle by the third double-page spread. Companion nighttime title Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star uses a similar, appropriately dark palette. Also publishing simultaneously are The Itsy Bitsy Spider and Little Bo Peep, both lighter and brighter than the first two but with the same smiling animal faces and decorative patterns in collagelike pictures. Quintanilla avoids questions of race and gender by using animal characters throughout, making Bo Peep an Old English sheepdog instead of a shepherdess. All four texts are true to the original rhymes, without embellishments or added verses, making them a reasonable way to introduce toddlers to the traditional rhymes. However, the hefty sticker prices make them rather expensive additions to a toddler’s library, especially since many caregivers can probably recite them from memory. A more comprehensive book of nursery rhymes such as My Very First Mother Goose edited by Iona Opie and illustrated by Rosemary Wells (1996) would be a better investment.

For settings that would value the rhymes in separate packages, sturdy, serviceable efforts. (Board book. 6 mos.-2)

Pub Date: Aug. 7, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4867-1564-0

Page Count: 14

Publisher: Flowerpot Press

Review Posted Online: Sept. 17, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2019

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Rich, naturalistic details will delight lovers of marine life.


A Monterey Bay sea otter comes of age.

Odder’s mom told her to stay away from sharks, humans, and anything else she didn’t understand, but after saving her friend Kairi from a shark attack, she encounters all three. Injured herself during the rescue, Odder ends up recuperating at the Monterey Bay Aquarium, or Highwater as the otters call it, where she once lived as a young orphaned pup. Last time, the humans helped her reintegrate into the wild, but because of her injuries this time the outcome might be different. Soon Kairi is there too, stricken with “the shaking sickness” and having lost her newborn pup. Now Kairi is fostering a new pup, and soon one is introduced to an initially reluctant Odder in hopes that she will help raise it so it can return to the wild. The free verse effortlessly weaves in scientific information, giving Odder a voice without overly anthropomorphizing any of the animals. The natural appeal of sea otters will draw readers in, but the book doesn’t shy away from real-world threats such as predators, disease, and pollution. Loosely based on the stories of real sea otters rehabilitated at the Monterey Bay Aquarium, this novel will give readers lots to talk about, but uneven pacing and a rushed ending may leave some unsatisfied. Charming black-and-white spot art captures the world and life of the sea.

Rich, naturalistic details will delight lovers of marine life. (glossary, author’s note, bibliography, resources) (Verse novel. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 20, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-250-14742-4

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Review Posted Online: Aug. 31, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2022

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Poet Alexander deftly reveals the power of the format to pack an emotional punch.

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Basketball-playing twins find challenges to their relationship on and off the court as they cope with changes in their lives.

Josh Bell and his twin, Jordan, aka JB, are stars of their school basketball team. They are also successful students, since their educator mother will stand for nothing else. As the two middle schoolers move to a successful season, readers can see their differences despite the sibling connection. After all, Josh has dreadlocks and is quiet on court, and JB is bald and a trash talker. Their love of the sport comes from their father, who had also excelled in the game, though his championship was achieved overseas. Now, however, he does not have a job and seems to have health problems the parents do not fully divulge to the boys. The twins experience their first major rift when JB is attracted to a new girl in their school, and Josh finds himself without his brother. This novel in verse is rich in character and relationships. Most interesting is the family dynamic that informs so much of the narrative, which always reveals, never tells. While Josh relates the story, readers get a full picture of major and minor players. The basketball action provides energy and rhythm for a moving story.

Poet Alexander deftly reveals the power of the format to pack an emotional punch. (Verse fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: March 18, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-544-10771-7

Page Count: 240

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 18, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2014

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