A well-told story with enough pathos to deliver its underlying message of environmental stewardship.

THE GENEROUS FISH

A boy’s relationship with a fish results in the town’s wealth and prosperity at the expense of their generous benefactor.

Heeding the words of his father always to be good to others, Reuven shares his daily bread with a talking golden fish, Nissim, who befriends him at the shore and invites him to play in the water. They roughhouse a bit, and one of Nissim’s scales falls off. But the fish insists Reuven “Take it. My scales grow back.” In the village, the townsfolk see the scale is real gold and envision a richer life. Eager to help the villagers but reluctant to impose, Reuven asks Nissim to give more scales to those in need. The fish willingly complies, but with most of its scales gone, soon it becomes dangerously weak. Alarmed, Reuven puts an end to his friend’s self-destructive generosity and scolds the villagers for their greed. Remorseful, the villagers, led by the rabbi, bring food and love and help Nissim back to robust health. Inspired by two Jewish folktales, one classic and one Hasidic, Jules has crafted a clear metaphor for environmental destruction and the need for healing. Tyrrell’s lovely, vivid, detailed paintings depict an Old World Hasidic seaside town. Human figures are pale-skinned and are arranged rather stiffly within intricately bordered frames.

A well-told story with enough pathos to deliver its underlying message of environmental stewardship. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-937786-79-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Wisdom Tales

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2019

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A good introduction to observation, data, and trying again.

CECE LOVES SCIENCE

From the Cece and the Scientific Method series

Cece loves asking “why” and “what if.”

Her parents encourage her, as does her science teacher, Ms. Curie (a wink to adult readers). When Cece and her best friend, Isaac, pair up for a science project, they choose zoology, brainstorming questions they might research. They decide to investigate whether dogs eat vegetables, using Cece’s schnauzer, Einstein, and the next day they head to Cece’s lab (inside her treehouse). Wearing white lab coats, the two observe their subject and then offer him different kinds of vegetables, alone and with toppings. Cece is discouraged when Einstein won’t eat them. She complains to her parents, “Maybe I’m not a real scientist after all….Our project was boring.” Just then, Einstein sniffs Cece’s dessert, leading her to try a new way to get Einstein to eat vegetables. Cece learns that “real scientists have fun finding answers too.” Harrison’s clean, bright illustrations add expression and personality to the story. Science report inserts are reminiscent of The Magic Schoolbus books, with less detail. Biracial Cece is a brown, freckled girl with curly hair; her father is white, and her mother has brown skin and long, black hair; Isaac and Ms. Curie both have pale skin and dark hair. While the book doesn’t pack a particularly strong emotional or educational punch, this endearing protagonist earns a place on the children’s STEM shelf.

A good introduction to observation, data, and trying again. (glossary) (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: June 19, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-249960-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Review Posted Online: March 27, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2018

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An arguable error of omission and definite errors of commission sink this otherwise attractive effort.

ANIMAL ARCHITECTS

From the Amazing Animals series

A look at the unique ways that 11 globe-spanning animal species construct their homes.

Each creature garners two double-page spreads, which Cherrix enlivens with compelling and at-times jaw-dropping facts. The trapdoor spider constructs a hidden burrow door from spider silk. Sticky threads, fanning from the entrance, vibrate “like a silent doorbell” when walked upon by unwitting insect prey. Prairie dogs expertly dig communal burrows with designated chambers for “sleeping, eating, and pooping.” The largest recorded “town” occupied “25,000 miles and housed as many as 400 million prairie dogs!” Female ants are “industrious insects” who can remove more than a ton of dirt from their colony in a year. Cathedral termites use dirt and saliva to construct solar-cooled towers 30 feet high. Sasaki’s lively pictures borrow stylistically from the animal compendiums of mid-20th-century children’s lit; endpapers and display type elegantly suggest the blues of cyanotypes and architectural blueprints. Jarringly, the lead spread cheerfully extols the prowess of the corals of the Great Barrier Reef, “the world’s largest living structure,” while ignoring its accelerating, human-abetted destruction. Calamitously, the honeybee hive is incorrectly depicted as a paper-wasps’ nest, and the text falsely states that chewed beeswax “hardens into glue to shape the hive.” (This book was reviewed digitally.)

An arguable error of omission and definite errors of commission sink this otherwise attractive effort. (selected sources) (Informational picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 7, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5344-5625-9

Page Count: 56

Publisher: Beach Lane/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 6, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2021

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