Humor and heartfelt lyricism create a clear but nonpedantic morality tale for young and young-at-heart.

SNOWBOY AND THE LAST TREE STANDING

Will Snowboy and his Ice Troopers save the planet by reining in the greedy shortsightedness of Greenbackboy?

Whimsical artwork and lyrical, folkloric prose present a motif both familiar and new. Snowboy and Greenbackboy are light-skinned waifs: Snowboy has a pointy, elfin hood atop his Cloak of Many Uses; Greenbackboy sports a brown hat with bearlike ears. The moppets’ characterizations are expressive—as are those of Snowboy’s loyal Ice Troopers: two pigs and a polar bear. Greenbackboy easily persuades Snowboy to chop down trees and overfish the ocean to get lots of “KA-CHING,” represented by piles of glowing, yellow coins. Well—Snowboy is almost persuaded; in each instance, at the last minute, he remembers the importance of keeping at least one tree and two fish from extinction, and he acts accordingly. The text is both poetic and apocalyptic, as when a storm blows through: “As there were no trees to snag its wings, it swept all before it, tossing the mountains of canned fish into the empty oceans, where they sank and rusted and were lost.” The text moves beyond the expected rescue of planetary resources to reconciliation between the boys; a sweet, bedtime-story ending; and a sly reminder about constant vigilance needed against “the fantasy of KA-CHING.”

Humor and heartfelt lyricism create a clear but nonpedantic morality tale for young and young-at-heart. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: March 27, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-7636-9572-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Dec. 6, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2018

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Excellent for enriching vocabulary, developing creative thinking, and enhancing a love of nature.

WONDER WALKERS

Ever wonder what kids wonder about?

Two kids, likely siblings, take a “wonder walk” outside. They greet nature with awe and ask themselves (and, not so incidentally, readers) questions articulated in language that is spare and economic yet profound and beautifully poetic. Only wonderstruck children, confronting nature’s gorgeous mysteries, could express themselves so intimately, creatively, and originally. Youngsters reading/hearing this book on laps or in groups, and grown-ups, too, will be charmed, enlightened, and moved by these breathless queries. Ponder: “Is the sun the world’s light bulb?” “Are trees the sky’s legs?” “Is dirt the world’s skin?” “Is the wind the world breathing?” Occasionally, the walkers summarize their thoughts with a solemn exchange: “ ‘I wonder.’ / ‘Me too.’ ” At last, the exploratory journey culminates with nighttime, which evokes a lovely question of its own. The simple text is composed mostly of the duo’s questions; spreads feature one or two queries apiece. Each should be carefully read aloud to allow for serious listener consideration and response. At the book’s conclusion, children may want space to discuss, dictate, write, and/or illustrate their own questions/ideas about nature. Luminous ink-and-collage illustrations are lush and vivid, perfectly suiting the text. The pair are kids of color, one with long, straight, black hair and the other with brown curls. (This book was reviewed digitally with 9-by-20-inch double-page spreads viewed at 37.4% of actual size.)

Excellent for enriching vocabulary, developing creative thinking, and enhancing a love of nature. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: March 30, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-10964-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Nancy Paulsen Books

Review Posted Online: Jan. 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2021

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A good bet for the youngest bird-watchers.

MAMA BUILT A LITTLE NEST

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. 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2014

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