A gentle story about connection that will connect with readers of all ages.

I AM A BIRD

True understanding comes from a willingness to look deeper.

In an idyllic seaside community rendered in soft colored pencil and bright paint, a young child flies to school on the back of Daddy’s bike. Both present Asian. Arms stretched wide, the child expresses joy and exclaims, “I am a bird.” Singing an exuberant bird song—“CA-CAW! CA-CAW!”—the smiling and waving narrator spreads happiness along the way. Along their route, passersby smile and wave in return, and even the birds sing back. One day, the child spots an older, White woman in a blue coat and carrying a big bag; she is walking past a mural painted with toothy animals and does not wave and smile. The predatory animals depicted in the mural openly gape at the woman throughout the story, manifesting the child’s growing dislike as they see her again, day after day. Soon, the child’s bird song stops whenever the woman is spotted. One day they are running late, and the child does not see the woman until catching a glance of her in a park. She is surrounded by birds, whispering her own bird song, and the child has an epiphany. In the final double-page spread, the child and woman reflect each other with raised heads and closed eyes as they find they are the same: “We are birds.” The soft, textured illustrations expertly pair with the understated text and its beautifully simple, implicit message to look closer before jumping to conclusions. (This book was reviewed digitally with 9.1-by-19.6-inch double-page spreads viewed at 25.2% of actual size.)

A gentle story about connection that will connect with readers of all ages. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5362-0891-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Dec. 25, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 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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Informative, empowering, and fun.

ROX'S SECRET CODE

Girl power abounds in this book about coding that introduces young readers to the world of programming while offering them hands-on activities via a companion app.

In this title that was first introduced as a customizable, personalized print-on-demand product, Rox has a superpower. Using code, she programs toy robots that can do things like make broccoli disappear—or mischief. When Dad tells Rox to clean her room, she quickly thinks up a bot that will do it for her, writing code that instructs her bot to use artificial intelligence to sort objects by color and type. Though Rox knows that there’s a high potential for her creation to rebel, the perks outweigh any potential adverse effects. Rox’s robot has her room neat and tidy in no time—and then the entire home. Chorebot’s AI allows it to keep learning, and it seems Chorebot can do no wrong until the robot decides to rearrange the entire city (both buildings and people) by type, style, and gender. Chorebot goes “out of his artificial mind!” Rox must now stop her creation…without the assistance of the internet. The artwork, styled in the tradition of popular superhero series, is peppy and colorful, and it depicts Rox as an adorable black girl donning a black bomber jacket and a pink tutu. A companion app (not available for review) allows readers to create a bot of their own.

Informative, empowering, and fun. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 6, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-57687-899-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: POW!

Review Posted Online: Sept. 2, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2018

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