PAVEL AND THE TREE ARMY

A timely theme to emphasize America’s promise for each generation of newcomers.

In Depression-era America, Pavel, a Russian-Jewish immigrant, joins the Civilian Conservation Corps and learns to blend his new American identity with his Jewish one.

On the advice of his rabbi, Pavel decides to take a job planting trees all over the country as part of the new program established by President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Arriving in Idaho, Pavel’s first impression is that this empty landscape seems quite foreign compared to a bustling, busy New York City, but Pavel is encouraged by the prospect of three meals a day and hard-earned money to help support his family. However, some of the men he meets on his team scrutinize Pavel’s accent and claim he cannot be a real American. Pavel wonders how he can prove that he is just as American as his co-workers. As the Fourth of July approaches, Pavel and his fellow immigrant workers learn the words to the newly declared national anthem, “The Star-Spangled Banner,” and sing it at the fireworks display, proudly declaring their new American status. Demonstrative, stylized paintings feature an assortment of sturdy, earnest young men (all pale-skinned) dressed in blue/green uniforms planting a plethora of tree saplings. The author’s not-so-subtle metaphor illustrates how Pavel’s work allows him to feel rooted in his new country just as his plantings grow and thrive in today’s national parks and forests.

A timely theme to emphasize America’s promise for each generation of newcomers. (author’s note) (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5124-4446-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Kar-Ben

Review Posted Online: Dec. 4, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2019

WAITING IS NOT EASY!

From the Elephant & Piggie series

A lesson that never grows old, enacted with verve by two favorite friends

Gerald the elephant learns a truth familiar to every preschooler—heck, every human: “Waiting is not easy!”

When Piggie cartwheels up to Gerald announcing that she has a surprise for him, Gerald is less than pleased to learn that the “surprise is a surprise.” Gerald pumps Piggie for information (it’s big, it’s pretty, and they can share it), but Piggie holds fast on this basic principle: Gerald will have to wait. Gerald lets out an almighty “GROAN!” Variations on this basic exchange occur throughout the day; Gerald pleads, Piggie insists they must wait; Gerald groans. As the day turns to twilight (signaled by the backgrounds that darken from mauve to gray to charcoal), Gerald gets grumpy. “WE HAVE WASTED THE WHOLE DAY!…And for WHAT!?” Piggie then gestures up to the Milky Way, which an awed Gerald acknowledges “was worth the wait.” Willems relies even more than usual on the slightest of changes in posture, layout and typography, as two waiting figures can’t help but be pretty static. At one point, Piggie assumes the lotus position, infuriating Gerald. Most amusingly, Gerald’s elephantine groans assume weighty physicality in spread-filling speech bubbles that knock Piggie to the ground. And the spectacular, photo-collaged images of the Milky Way that dwarf the two friends makes it clear that it was indeed worth the wait.

A lesson that never grows old, enacted with verve by two favorite friends . (Early reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 4, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4231-9957-1

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Nov. 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2014

KONDO & KEZUMI VISIT GIANT ISLAND

From the Kondo & Kezumi series , Vol. 1

A story of friendship that is both lively and lovely

Two friends embark upon a high-seas adventure.

Kondo, a large lemon-colored creature with wide round eyes, spends his day on his island home with his best friend, tangerine-hued Kezumi. Together, they frolic on their idyllic isle picking berries (tall Kondo nabs the higher fruit while Kezumi helps to retrieve the lower) while surrounded by tiny “flitter-birds” and round “fluffle-bunnies.” One day, Kezumi finds a map in a bottle that declares “WE ARE NOT ALONE.” Inspired by visions of a larger world, Kondo and Kezumi fashion a boat from a bathtub and set sail. The pair visits fantastical islands—deliciously cheese-laden Dairy Isle, the fiery and fearsome Fireskull Island—until they eventually settle upon the titular Giant Island, where they meet Albert, a gigantic gray talking mountain who is—obviously—unable to leave. Enthralled by his new friends, Albert wants them to stay forever. After Albert makes a fraught decision, Kondo and Kezumi find themselves at a crossroads and must confront their new friend. Goodner and Tsurumi’s brightly illustrated chapter book should find favor with fans of Kate DiCamillo and Chris Van Dusen’s similarly designed Mercy Watson series. Short, wry, descriptive sentences make for an equally enjoyable experience whether read aloud or independently. Episodic chapters move the action along jauntily; the conclusion is somewhat abrupt, but it promises more exploration and adventures for the best friends. (This review was originally published in the June 1, 2019, issue. The book data has been updated to reflect changes in publisher and date of publication.)

A story of friendship that is both lively and lovely (Fantasy. 6-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 27, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-368-02577-5

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: May 7, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2020

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