The beauty and majesty of deciduous trees seem to bring out the philosopher in many authors, resulting in a wealth of...

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THE LAST TREE

Chabbert imagines a world without trees—until friends discover a sapling.

This first-person narrative establishes the speaker as a grown-up remembering a story from his father’s youth, then describing his own. The elder man loved playing in the grass; Guridi’s field fills two thirds of the vertical space on the double-page spread. The verdant scene contrasts with the 13 green blades in the gray concrete jungle surrounding the son. It is a friend who shows him the young tree, doomed, it is revealed, due to the imminent construction of luxury condos. The boys rescue the tender growth, replanting it far away. Aspects of the charcoal, ink, gouache, pencil, and digital art are reminiscent of Oliver Jeffers’ work—the boys’ blue and orange silhouettes with large heads and slender bodies, the collage elements. Ultimately readers learn that “Years later…. / I had grown. / The tree had, too.” There is a clear message about the superiority of nature to the man-made, but the text sometimes seems aimed at adults more than children. The ending is confusing (the boys do not appear to have grown at all); it is neither logical nor very hopeful—there is only the one, titular, last tree.

The beauty and majesty of deciduous trees seem to bring out the philosopher in many authors, resulting in a wealth of options for exploring growth and environmental responsibility. This is not a first choice. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: April 4, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-77138-728-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Kids Can

Review Posted Online: Jan. 17, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2017

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A quiet, warm look at the bond between grandfather and grandson.

MAX AND THE TAG-ALONG MOON

After a visit, an African-American grandfather and grandson say farewell under a big yellow moon. Granpa tells Max it is the same moon he will see when he gets home.

This gently told story uses Max’s fascination with the moon’s ability to “tag along” where his family’s car goes as a metaphor for his grandfather’s constant love. Separating the two relatives is “a swervy-curvy road” that travels up and down hills, over a bridge, “past a field of sleeping cows,” around a small town and through a tunnel. No matter where Max travels, the moon is always there, waiting around a curve or peeking through the trees. But then “[d]ark clouds tumbled across the night sky.” No stars, no nightingales and no moon are to be found. Max frets: “Granpa said it would always shine for me.” Disappointed, Max climbs into bed, missing both the moon and his granpa. In a dramatic double-page spread, readers see Max’s excitement as “[s]lowly, very slowly, Max’s bedroom began to fill with a soft yellow glow.” Cooper uses his signature style to illustrate both the landscape—sometimes viewed from the car windows or reflected in the vehicle’s mirror—and the expressive faces of his characters. Coupled with the story’s lyrical text, this is a lovely mood piece.

A quiet, warm look at the bond between grandfather and grandson. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: June 13, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-399-23342-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: March 13, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2013

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Share this feel-good title with those who love art and those who can appreciate the confidence-building triumph of solving a...

SKY COLOR

Reynolds returns to a favorite topic—creative self-expression—with characteristic skill in a companion title to The Dot (2003) and Ish (2004).

Marisol is “an artist through and through. So when her teacher told her class they were going to paint a mural…, Marisol couldn’t wait to begin.” As each classmate claims a part of the picture to paint, Marisol declares she will “paint the sky.” But she soon discovers there is no blue paint and wonders what she will do without the vital color. Up to this point, the author uses color sparingly—to accent a poster or painting of Marisol’s or to highlight the paint jars on a desk. During her bus ride home, Marisol wonders what to do and stares out the window. The next spread reveals a vibrant departure from the gray tones of the previous pages. Reds, oranges, lemon yellows and golds streak across the sunset sky. Marisol notices the sky continuing to change in a rainbow of colors…except blue. After awakening from a colorful dream to a gray rainy day, Marisol smiles. With a fervent mixing of paints, she creates a beautiful swirling sky that she describes as “sky color.” Fans of Reynolds will enjoy the succinct language enhanced by illustrations in pen, ink, watercolor, gouache and tea.

Share this feel-good title with those who love art and those who can appreciate the confidence-building triumph of solving a problem on one’s own—creatively. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Aug. 28, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-7636-2345-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: June 20, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2012

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