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ELMORE

A sweet tale of interspecies positivity.

A lonely porcupine, his friendship rejected by the other woodland creatures, finds a way to bridge the divide.

Poignantly, Elmore ponders his long-standing difficulty making friends. “What was the problem? After all, the ‘L’ in Elmore’s name, his mother once explained, stood for ‘love.’ ” After posting a “Friends Wanted” sign on his beloved old maple, he overhears the scuttlebutt: “He’s too prickly. It’s hard to be around him.” After a rainy day of rumination about his quills—which his bucolic lifestyle would seem to render superficial—Elmore’s visited by his uncle. When Elmore explains his quandary, his uncle delivers an affirming message: “Your quills are beautiful. You should treasure them.” Uplifted, Elmore later regards the quills strewn about his home and gets an idea. (Amusingly, Hobbie depicts his comfy chair bristling with them.) He bundles quills together and posts a new sign, offering free “100% real Porcupine quills” to be used as pens. The “quill event” is a big success: Elmore suggests making ink from berries. “Everyone loves getting a note from a friend,” he says—and soon, he’s getting plenty. He happily regards a new maple-tree posting: an appreciation signed “Your friends.” Hobbie’s signature watercolors depict gently anthropomorphized animals amid a lovely woodland meadow dotted with yellow poppies. Verbally and visually, she thoughtfully contextualizes such concepts as “solitude” and “to treasure.”

A sweet tale of interspecies positivity. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Jan. 30, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5247-1863-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Sept. 25, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2017

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CARPENTER'S HELPER

Renata’s wren encounter proves magical, one most children could only wish to experience outside of this lovely story.

A home-renovation project is interrupted by a family of wrens, allowing a young girl an up-close glimpse of nature.

Renata and her father enjoy working on upgrading their bathroom, installing a clawfoot bathtub, and cutting a space for a new window. One warm night, after Papi leaves the window space open, two wrens begin making a nest in the bathroom. Rather than seeing it as an unfortunate delay of their project, Renata and Papi decide to let the avian carpenters continue their work. Renata witnesses the birth of four chicks as their rosy eggs split open “like coats that are suddenly too small.” Renata finds at a crucial moment that she can help the chicks learn to fly, even with the bittersweet knowledge that it will only hasten their exits from her life. Rosen uses lively language and well-chosen details to move the story of the baby birds forward. The text suggests the strong bond built by this Afro-Latinx father and daughter with their ongoing project without needing to point it out explicitly, a light touch in a picture book full of delicate, well-drawn moments and precise wording. Garoche’s drawings are impressively detailed, from the nest’s many small bits to the developing first feathers on the chicks and the wall smudges and exposed wiring of the renovation. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10-by-20-inch double-page spreads viewed at actual size.)

Renata’s wren encounter proves magical, one most children could only wish to experience outside of this lovely story. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: March 16, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-12320-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Schwartz & Wade/Random

Review Posted Online: Jan. 12, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2021

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ADDIE ANT GOES ON AN ADVENTURE

Young readers will be “antsy” to join the hero on her satisfying escapade.

An ant explores her world.

Addie Ant’s ready for adventure. Despite some trepidation about leaving the Tomato Bed, where she lives with her aunt, she plucks up her courage and ventures forth across the garden to the far side of the shed. On her journey, she meets her pal Lewis Ladybug, who greets her warmly, points the way, and offers sage advice. When Addie arrives at her destination, she’s welcomed by lovely Beatrix Butterfly and enjoys an “ant-tastic” helping of watermelon. Beatrix also provides Addie with take-home treats and a map for the “Cricket Express,” which will take her straight home. Arriving at the terminal, Addie’s delighted to meet another friend, Cleo Cricket, whose carriage service returns Addie home in “two hops.” After eating a warm tomato soup dinner, Addie falls asleep and dreams of future exploits. Adorable though not terribly original, this story brims with sensuous pleasures, both textual and visual. Kids who declare that they dislike fruits or veggies may find their mouths watering at the mentions and sights of luscious tomatoes, peas, beans, watermelons, berries, and other foodstuffs; insect-averse readers may likewise think differently after encountering these convivial, wide-eyed characters. And those flowers and herbs everywhere! The highlights are the colors that burst from the pages. Addie’s an endearing, empowering character who reassures children they’ll be able to take those first independent steps successfully.

Young readers will be “antsy” to join the hero on her satisfying escapade. (author’s note about ants) (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: April 9, 2024

ISBN: 9781797228914

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: Feb. 3, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2024

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