IS THIS PANAMA?

A MIGRATION STORY

An unusual and attractive take on a perennially absorbing topic.

Sammy the young Wilson’s warbler’s freezing toes tell him it’s time to migrate, but how will he find his way from his home in the Arctic Circle to Panama when all the other birds have already left?

After several fruitless attempts to solve this problem by questioning other birds and animals, he sets off, hitching a ride on a sandhill crane and following the shoreline with a flock of darner dragonflies. Other warblers show him how to navigate by the stars, but the confusion of city lights leads to a painful encounter with a skyscraper window. Challenged by the uber-migrant Hudsonian godwit, Sammy sets out over the ocean, island hopping all the way to Mexico. The instincts of the tiny bird are true, and they lead him to his final destination. Thornhill’s authoritative yet friendly and accessible text, coupled with Kim’s decorative pen-and-wash collaged illustrations, make this an appealing book for children who appreciate realism and authentic detail in a picture book. The endpapers depict realistic sketches of a few of the vast variety of warblers, and a map of bird migration routes completes this charming and unusual nature storybook. A brief introduction to the other animals and birds mentioned in the story is also included. Possibilities for use in the classroom are endless.

An unusual and attractive take on a perennially absorbing topic. (Picture book. 6-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-926973-88-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Owlkids Books

Review Posted Online: July 16, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2013

CODY HARMON, KING OF PETS

From the Franklin School Friends series

Another winner from Mills, equally well suited to reading aloud and independent reading.

When Franklin School principal Mr. Boone announces a pet-show fundraiser, white third-grader Cody—whose lack of skill and interest in academics is matched by keen enthusiasm for and knowledge of animals—discovers his time to shine.

As with other books in this series, the children and adults are believable and well-rounded. Even the dialogue is natural—no small feat for a text easily accessible to intermediate readers. Character growth occurs, organically and believably. Students occasionally, humorously, show annoyance with teachers: “He made mad squinty eyes at Mrs. Molina, which fortunately she didn’t see.” Readers will be kept entertained by Cody’s various problems and the eventual solutions. His problems include needing to raise $10 to enter one of his nine pets in the show (he really wants to enter all of them), his troublesome dog Angus—“a dog who ate homework—actually, who ate everything and then threw up afterward”—struggles with homework, and grappling with his best friend’s apparently uncaring behavior toward a squirrel. Serious values and issues are explored with a light touch. The cheery pencil illustrations show the school’s racially diverse population as well as the memorable image of Mr. Boone wearing an elephant costume. A minor oddity: why does a child so immersed in animal facts call his male chicken a rooster but his female chickens chickens?

Another winner from Mills, equally well suited to reading aloud and independent reading. (Fiction. 7-10)

Pub Date: June 14, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-374-30223-8

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2016

ACOUSTIC ROOSTER AND HIS BARNYARD BAND

Having put together a band with renowned cousin Duck Ellington and singer “Bee” Holiday, Rooster’s chances sure look...

Winning actually isn’t everything, as jazz-happy Rooster learns when he goes up against the legendary likes of Mules Davis and Ella Finchgerald at the barnyard talent show.

Having put together a band with renowned cousin Duck Ellington and singer “Bee” Holiday, Rooster’s chances sure look good—particularly after his “ ‘Hen from Ipanema’ [makes] / the barnyard chickies swoon.”—but in the end the competition is just too stiff. No matter: A compliment from cool Mules and the conviction that he still has the world’s best band soon puts the strut back in his stride. Alexander’s versifying isn’t always in tune (“So, he went to see his cousin, / a pianist of great fame…”), and despite his moniker Rooster plays an electric bass in Bower’s canted country scenes. Children are unlikely to get most of the jokes liberally sprinkled through the text, of course, so the adults sharing it with them should be ready to consult the backmatter, which consists of closing notes on jazz’s instruments, history and best-known musicians.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-58536-688-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sleeping Bear Press

Review Posted Online: July 19, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2011

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