Beautifully effective as both nostalgia trip and lesson in conservation.

ONE LITTLE BAG

AN AMAZING JOURNEY

This wordless picture book traces one brown paper bag’s journey: from timber and manufacturing through the hands of a small, white boy and his single father to those of the next generation.

The skilled black-ink drawings lend a look of pleasant harmony to all the characters that populate the pages, from woodland creatures to humans of various ages and gender and racial presentations. Meticulous attention to composition, textures, and period detail—starting around the 1960s—makes each page a delight. The common feature of each scene is a brown paper bag, which the protagonist’s father decorates with a red heart on his son’s first day of school—the book’s only pops of color. After its first use for the boy’s lunch, the bag becomes a never-ending vessel-of-all-trades. As the boy grows up, the bag serves as, among other things, a de facto lampshade over a flashlight to quell nightmares; a bag for automotive tools; receptacle for an engagement ring when the protagonist, now a young man, proposes to his girlfriend, a black woman; a petal container for the wedding’s flower girl; and a collection bag when the protagonist’s child gathers seashells with grandpa. Because there are no words, children are left to draw their own conclusions from an eventual drawing of the grandfather’s empty chair. (Is he wintering in some warm place? The planting of a pine seedling, its roots protected by that paper bag, offers an alternative interpretation.) The subtitle will disappoint those who equate “amazing” with narratives outside a common, middle-class, heteronormative life. However, the bag’s durability is amazing—and, according to the author’s fascinating note, not impossible.

Beautifully effective as both nostalgia trip and lesson in conservation. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: April 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-338-35997-8

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Dec. 18, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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A good choice for a late fall storytime.

SNACK, SNOOZE, SKEDADDLE

HOW ANIMALS GET READY FOR WINTER

Animal behaviors change as they prepare to face the winter.

Migrate, hibernate, or tolerate. With smooth rhymes and jaunty illustrations, Salas and Gévry introduce three strategies animals use for coping with winter cold. The author’s long experience in imparting information to young readers is evident in her selection of familiar animals and in her presentation. Spread by spread she introduces her examples, preparing in fall and surviving in winter. She describes two types of migration: Hummingbirds and monarchs fly, and blue whales travel to the warmth of the south; earthworms burrow deeper into the earth. Without using technical words, she introduces four forms of hibernation—chipmunks nap and snack; bears mainly sleep; Northern wood frogs become an “icy pop,” frozen until spring; and normally solitary garter snakes snuggle together in huge masses. Those who can tolerate the winter still change behavior. Mice store food and travel in tunnels under the snow; moose grow a warmer kind of fur; the red fox dives into the snow to catch small mammals (like those mice); and humans put on warm clothes and play. The animals in the soft pastel illustrations are recognizable, more cuddly than realistic, and quite appealing; their habitats are stylized. The humans represent varied ethnicities. Each page includes two levels of text, and there’s further information in the extensive backmatter. Pair with Joyce Sidman and Rick Allen’s Winter Bees (2014).

A good choice for a late fall storytime. (glossary) (Informational picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5415-2900-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Millbrook/Lerner

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2019

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A $16.99 Mother’s Day card for cat lovers.

MOMMIES ARE AMAZING

The team of Costain and Lovšin (Daddies are Awesome, 2016) gives moms their due.

Rhyming verses tell of all the ways moms are amazing: “Mommies are magic. / They kiss away troubles… // …find gold in the sunlight / and rainbows in bubbles.” Moms are joyful—the best playmates. They are also fearless and will protect and soothe if you are scared. Clever moms know just what to do when you’re sad, sporty moms run and leap and climb, while tender moms cuddle. “My mommy’s so special. / I tell her each day… // … just how much I love her / in every way!” Whereas dads were illustrated with playful pups and grown-up dogs in the previous book, moms are shown as cats with their kittens in myriad colors, sizes, and breeds. Lovšin’s cats look as though they are smiling at each other in their fun, though several spreads are distractingly cut in half by the gutter. However delightful the presentation—the verse rolls fairly smoothly, and the cats are pretty cute—the overall effect is akin to a cream puff’s: very sweet and insubstantial.

A $16.99 Mother’s Day card for cat lovers. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: April 4, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-62779-651-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: March 20, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2017

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