An elegant reminder of solitary pleasure in nature.

A YEAR IN THE WOODS

Selections from Thoreau’s Walden are illustrated with full-page and double-page watercolors.

With dramatic use of negative space, a white moon in a dark blue sky glows above blue-tinged deciduous and pine trees, all reflected in a calm, un-rippled Walden Pond. The page opposite—decorated with two delicately rendered leaves (oak and maple)—begins: “I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately…” and concludes with a few more sentences describing why Thoreau wanted to live “sturdily and Spartan-like” for a year. The page turns to a double-page spread of Walden Pond during the day—equally serene—with a young, lanky Thoreau—walking stick in hand—gazing across its expanse. Throughout the book, short, positive musings are complemented by equally idyllic artwork, whether Henry is building his cabin, spending time in the pine woods—his “ ‘best’ room”—or reading by his fireplace while snow gathers outside. Only the least controversial of Walden’s many ideas have been chosen, resulting in a serene tone. The chosen text is poetic—if quaint—and both text and art compel readers to slow down in contemplation. Although the publisher recommends “interest level” for ages 9 and up, younger readers will enjoy the language’s rhythm and the soothing art; conversely, older readers will, hopefully, be inspired to read the original.

An elegant reminder of solitary pleasure in nature. (Picture book/memoir. 8-13)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-56846-305-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Creative Editions/Creative Company

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2017

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A breezy, bustling bucketful of courageous acts and eye-popping feats.

50 IMPRESSIVE KIDS AND THEIR AMAZING (AND TRUE!) STORIES

From the They Did What? series

Why should grown-ups get all the historical, scientific, athletic, cinematic, and artistic glory?

Choosing exemplars from both past and present, Mitchell includes but goes well beyond Alexander the Great, Anne Frank, and like usual suspects to introduce a host of lesser-known luminaries. These include Shapur II, who was formally crowned king of Persia before he was born, Indian dancer/professional architect Sheila Sri Prakash, transgender spokesperson Jazz Jennings, inventor Param Jaggi, and an international host of other teen or preteen activists and prodigies. The individual portraits range from one paragraph to several pages in length, and they are interspersed with group tributes to, for instance, the Nazi-resisting “Swingkinder,” the striking New York City newsboys, and the marchers of the Birmingham Children’s Crusade. Mitchell even offers would-be villains a role model in Elagabalus, “boy emperor of Rome,” though she notes that he, at least, came to an awful end: “Then, then! They dumped his remains in the Tiber River, to be nommed by fish for all eternity.” The entries are arranged in no evident order, and though the backmatter includes multiple booklists, a personality quiz, a glossary, and even a quick Braille primer (with Braille jokes to decode), there is no index. Still, for readers whose fires need lighting, there’s motivational kindling on nearly every page.

A breezy, bustling bucketful of courageous acts and eye-popping feats. (finished illustrations not seen) (Collective biography. 10-13)

Pub Date: May 10, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-14-751813-2

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Puffin

Review Posted Online: Nov. 11, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2015

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Friends of these pollinators will be best served elsewhere.

1001 BEES

This book is buzzing with trivia.

Follow a swarm of bees as they leave a beekeeper’s apiary in search of a new home. As the scout bees traverse the fields, readers are provided with a potpourri of facts and statements about bees. The information is scattered—much like the scout bees—and as a result, both the nominal plot and informational content are tissue-thin. There are some interesting facts throughout the book, but many pieces of trivia are too, well trivial, to prove useful. For example, as the bees travel, readers learn that “onion flowers are round and fluffy” and “fennel is a plant that is used in cooking.” Other facts are oversimplified and as a result are not accurate. For example, monofloral honey is defined as “made by bees who visit just one kind of flower” with no acknowledgment of the fact that bees may range widely, and swarm activity is described as a springtime event, when it can also occur in summer and early fall. The information in the book, such as species identification and measurement units, is directed toward British readers. The flat, thin-lined artwork does little to enhance the story, but an “I spy” game challenging readers to find a specific bee throughout is amusing.

Friends of these pollinators will be best served elsewhere. (Informational picture book. 8-10)

Pub Date: May 18, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-500-65265-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Thames & Hudson

Review Posted Online: April 14, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2021

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