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

THE SHOOING CAVE

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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Though told by two outsiders to the culture, this timely and well-crafted story will educate readers on the preciousness of...

THE WATER PRINCESS

An international story tackles a serious global issue with Reynolds’ characteristic visual whimsy.

Gie Gie—aka Princess Gie Gie—lives with her parents in Burkina Faso. In her kingdom under “the African sky, so wild and so close,” she can tame wild dogs with her song and make grass sway, but despite grand attempts, she can neither bring the water closer to home nor make it clean. French words such as “maintenant!” (now!) and “maman” (mother) and local color like the karite tree and shea nuts place the story in a French-speaking African country. Every morning, Gie Gie and her mother perch rings of cloth and large clay pots on their heads and walk miles to the nearest well to fetch murky, brown water. The story is inspired by model Georgie Badiel, who founded the Georgie Badiel Foundation to make clean water accessible to West Africans. The details in Reynolds’ expressive illustrations highlight the beauty of the West African landscape and of Princess Gie Gie, with her cornrowed and beaded hair, but will also help readers understand that everyone needs clean water—from the children of Burkina Faso to the children of Flint, Michigan.

Though told by two outsiders to the culture, this timely and well-crafted story will educate readers on the preciousness of potable water. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 13, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-399-17258-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 18, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2016

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A retro-futuristic romp, literally and figuratively screwy.

ROBOBABY

Robo-parents Diode and Lugnut present daughter Cathode with a new little brother—who requires, unfortunately, some assembly.

Arriving in pieces from some mechanistic version of Ikea, little Flange turns out to be a cute but complicated tyke who immediately falls apart…and then rockets uncontrollably about the room after an overconfident uncle tinkers with his basic design. As a squad of helpline techies and bevies of neighbors bearing sludge cake and like treats roll in, the cluttered and increasingly crowded scene deteriorates into madcap chaos—until at last Cath, with help from Roomba-like robodog Sprocket, stages an intervention by whisking the hapless new arrival off to a backyard workshop for a proper assembly and software update. “You’re such a good big sister!” warbles her frazzled mom. Wiesner’s robots display his characteristic clean lines and even hues but endearingly look like vaguely anthropomorphic piles of random jet-engine parts and old vacuum cleaners loosely connected by joints of armored cable. They roll hither and thither through neatly squared-off panels and pages in infectiously comical dismay. Even the end’s domestic tranquility lasts only until Cathode spots the little box buried in the bigger one’s packing material: “TWINS!” (This book was reviewed digitally with 9-by-22-inch double-page spreads viewed at 52% of actual size.)

A retro-futuristic romp, literally and figuratively screwy. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-544-98731-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Clarion Books

Review Posted Online: June 3, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2020

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