Luminous illustrations, interesting backmatter, but a wordy, less-than-clear story.



A boy and a cave-dwelling beastie encounter each other in this bedtime story.

An early-elementary-age boy, tucked into bed for bedtime, asks his father (depicted, rather creepily, in silhouette) to tell him the story of the Stark. Ensuing illustrations erase any initial disquiet with their crisp luminosity, evocatively rendering the mystery and wonder of the titular cave as the story unfolds. The Stark (the father tells the boy) lives in the caves and hunts for treasure. The blue-furred Stark has a nonthreatening Sesame Street–monster look. An unnamed boy (with brown, freckled skin and red, Afro-textured hair, just like the listening child) shows up to go caving, and when he sees the Stark, the boy says, “Shoo!” The wordy, somewhat disorganized text revolves around the boy exploring the cave and saying “shoo,” to the Stark. One night the Stark, deliberately or accidentally (it’s not clear), gives the boy a “stone pearl,” and the boy realizes the Stark means him no harm. The boy then sews a stuffed Stark “baby” and leaves it for the Stark to find. While the story itself doesn’t captivate, the backmatter, “Cave Facts,” does. It explains some of the cave phenomena mentioned but not clarified (“cave pearls,” “walrus whiskers”) in the story’s body and adds depth and interest.

Luminous illustrations, interesting backmatter, but a wordy, less-than-clear story. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-943431-51-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Tumblehome Learning

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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Cool and stylish.

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Her intellectual curiosity is surpassed only by her passion for science. But what to do about her messy experiments?

Ada is speechless until she turns 3. But once she learns how to break out of her crib, there’s no stopping the kinky-haired, brown-skinned girl. “She tore through the house on a fact-finding spree.” When she does start speaking, her favorite words are “why,” “how,” and “when.” Her parents, a fashion-forward black couple who sport a variety of trendy outfits, are dumbfounded, and her older brother can only point at her in astonishment. She amazes her friends with her experiments. Ada examines all the clocks in the house, studies the solar system, and analyzes all the smells she encounters. Fortunately, her parents stop her from putting the cat in the dryer, sending her instead to the Thinking Chair. But while there, she covers the wall with formulae. What can her parents do? Instead of punishing her passion, they decide to try to understand it. “It’s all in the heart of a young scientist.” Though her plot is negligible—Ada’s parents arguably change more than she does—Beaty delightfully advocates for girls in science in her now-trademark crisply rhyming text. Roberts’ illustrations, in watercolor, pen, and ink, manage to be both smart and silly; the page compositions artfully evoke the tumult of Ada’s curiosity, filling white backgrounds with questions and clutter.

Cool and stylish. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 6, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4197-2137-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: July 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2016

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“It’s time to head back home,” the narrator concludes. “You’ve touched the Earth in so many ways.” Who knew it would be so...


From the Julian Lennon White Feather Flier Adventure series , Vol. 1

A pro bono Twinkie of a book invites readers to fly off in a magic plane to bring clean water to our planet’s oceans, deserts, and brown children.

Following a confusingly phrased suggestion beneath a soft-focus world map to “touch the Earth. Now touch where you live,” a shake of the volume transforms it into a plane with eyes and feathered wings that flies with the press of a flat, gray “button” painted onto the page. Pressing like buttons along the journey releases a gush of fresh water from the ground—and later, illogically, provides a filtration device that changes water “from yucky to clean”—for thirsty groups of smiling, brown-skinned people. At other stops, a tap on the button will “help irrigate the desert,” and touching floating bottles and other debris in the ocean supposedly makes it all disappear so the fish can return. The 20 children Coh places on a globe toward the end are varied of skin tone, but three of the four young saviors she plants in the flier’s cockpit as audience stand-ins are white. The closing poem isn’t so openly parochial, though it seldom rises above vague feel-good sentiments: “Love the Earth, the moon and sun. / All the children can be one.”

“It’s time to head back home,” the narrator concludes. “You’ve touched the Earth in so many ways.” Who knew it would be so easy to clean the place up and give everyone a drink? (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: April 11, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-5107-2083-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Sky Pony Press

Review Posted Online: Feb. 4, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2017

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