Wonderfully cinematic and surreal for readers willing to go with Alvin’s flow.

THE JOURNEY OF ALVIN

Alvin rides his old mower to visit his brother, taking a slow journey across a beautiful landscape and enjoying the ride.

This artful storybook app combines soothing narration, measured pacing and striking use of colors to create a pleasurable, cinematic experience for young readers. As Alvin slowly bumps along, an eclectic assortment of vehicles pass him—from “the farmer’s stinky truck” to “music-making bicycles” ringing their bells. Alvin lives in the moment, never bothered by his slow speed. “By going at this speed, so slowly, so slowly… / he could hear the concert provided by the chirping birds, / and the animals of the forest.” Composed of geometric shapes, the illustrations have a decidedly retro look, and yet the color scheme is thoroughly modern, filled with subdued complementary colors. Text and narration are available in English and Spanish, with easy controls. Sound effects and music help immerse readers in the slow-moving scenes. A few inconsistencies may nag at literal-minded youngsters. Readers are told Alvin has a white beard, and yet the illustrations show it to be yellow. When the turtle momentarily hunkers down in its shell, it continues to move even though it is not walking. The setting transitions from a desert plateau to a seaside town briefly without any discussion.

Wonderfully cinematic and surreal for readers willing to go with Alvin’s flow. (iPad storybook app. 3-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 21, 2014

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: meikme

Review Posted Online: Nov. 18, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2014

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Excellent for enriching vocabulary, developing creative thinking, and enhancing a love of nature.

WONDER WALKERS

Ever wonder what kids wonder about?

Two kids, likely siblings, take a “wonder walk” outside. They greet nature with awe and ask themselves (and, not so incidentally, readers) questions articulated in language that is spare and economic yet profound and beautifully poetic. Only wonderstruck children, confronting nature’s gorgeous mysteries, could express themselves so intimately, creatively, and originally. Youngsters reading/hearing this book on laps or in groups, and grown-ups, too, will be charmed, enlightened, and moved by these breathless queries. Ponder: “Is the sun the world’s light bulb?” “Are trees the sky’s legs?” “Is dirt the world’s skin?” “Is the wind the world breathing?” Occasionally, the walkers summarize their thoughts with a solemn exchange: “ ‘I wonder.’ / ‘Me too.’ ” At last, the exploratory journey culminates with nighttime, which evokes a lovely question of its own. The simple text is composed mostly of the duo’s questions; spreads feature one or two queries apiece. Each should be carefully read aloud to allow for serious listener consideration and response. At the book’s conclusion, children may want space to discuss, dictate, write, and/or illustrate their own questions/ideas about nature. Luminous ink-and-collage illustrations are lush and vivid, perfectly suiting the text. The pair are kids of color, one with long, straight, black hair and the other with brown curls. (This book was reviewed digitally with 9-by-20-inch double-page spreads viewed at 37.4% of actual size.)

Excellent for enriching vocabulary, developing creative thinking, and enhancing a love of nature. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: March 30, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-10964-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Nancy Paulsen Books

Review Posted Online: Jan. 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2021

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

CARPENTER'S HELPER

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. 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2021

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