An imaginative and original depiction of one of life’s everyday miracles.

ON BIRD HILL

From the On Bird Hill and Beyond series

A young dog-walker recalls the memorable experience of watching a chick hatch.

To inaugurate a new series created for the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Yolen, who has often celebrated the natural world, provides a graceful poem reminiscent of the cumulative song “The Green Grass Grew All Around.” Illustrator Marstall sets this in a fantastical landscape with Seussian trees and surprising, pleasing tiny details, including humans, animals, oversized insects, and, far away, sailboats on an ocean. The dog-walker sets out just before sunrise; a waning crescent moon still shines when they reach Bird Hill. The tree is on the summit; a cutaway image on the bottom of the page showing the walkers’ path reveals its roots. Slowly, they close in on the tree, the limb, the twig, the nest, and the “bird at rest.” A striking spread shows a cloud of feathers and the barely visible chick, still in the egg. A later, wordless close-up of the emerging chick invites young readers and listeners to stop and wonder. There’s humor, too, when the hatchling fluffs his wings and stretches his legs. Then the point of view changes, moving from the observer to the chick, who looks around to see “the moon… / …and me.” Carefully crafted rhyming couplets beg to be read aloud again and again.

An imaginative and original depiction of one of life’s everyday miracles. (Picture book. 2-6)

Pub Date: May 10, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-943645-02-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Cornell Lab Publishing Group

Review Posted Online: March 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2016

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Beloved Little Blue takes a bit of the mystery—and fear—out of Halloween costumes.

LITTLE BLUE TRUCK'S HALLOWEEN

A lift-the-flap book gives the littlest trick-or-treaters some practice identifying partygoers under their costumes.

Little Blue Truck and his buddy Toad are off to a party, and they invite readers (and a black cat) along for the ride: “ ‘Beep! Beep! Beep!’ / says Little Blue. / ‘It’s Halloween!’ / You come, too.” As they drive, they are surprised (and joined) by many of their friends in costume. “Who’s that in a tutu / striking a pose / up on the tiniest / tips of her toes? / Under the mask / who do you see?” Lifting the flap unmasks a friend: “ ‘Quack!’ says the duck. / ‘It’s me! It’s me!’ ” The sheep is disguised as a clown, the cow’s a queen, the pig’s a witch, the hen and her chick are pirates, and the horse is a dragon. Not to be left out, Little Blue has a costume, too. The flaps are large and sturdy, and enough of the animals’ characteristic features are visible under and around the costumes that little ones will be able to make successful guesses even on the first reading. Lovely curvy shapes and autumn colors fade to dusky blues as night falls, and children are sure to notice the traditional elements of a Halloween party: apple bobbing, lit jack-o’-lanterns, and punch and treats.

Beloved Little Blue takes a bit of the mystery—and fear—out of Halloween costumes. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: July 5, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-544-77253-3

Page Count: 16

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: July 20, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2016

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Innovative and thoroughly enjoyable.

ANIMAL SHAPES

You think you know shapes? Animals? Blend them together, and you might see them both a little differently!

What a mischievous twist on a concept book! With wordplay and a few groan-inducing puns, Neal creates connections among animals and shapes that are both unexpected and so seemingly obvious that readers might wonder why they didn’t see them all along. Of course, a “lazy turtle” meeting an oval would create the side-splitting combo of a “SLOW-VAL.” A dramatic page turn transforms a deeply saturated, clean-lined green oval by superimposing a head and turtle shell atop, with watery blue ripples completing the illusion. Minimal backgrounds and sketchy, impressionistic detailing keep the focus right on the zany animals. Beginning with simple shapes, the geometric forms become more complicated as the book advances, taking readers from a “soaring bird” that meets a triangle to become a “FLY-ANGLE” to a “sleepy lion” nonagon “YAWN-AGON.” Its companion text, Animal Colors, delves into color theory, this time creating entirely hybrid animals, such as the “GREEN WHION” with maned head and whale’s tail made from a “blue whale and a yellow lion.” It’s a compelling way to visualize color mixing, and like Animal Shapes, it’s got verve. Who doesn’t want to shout out that a yellow kangaroo/green moose blend is a “CHARTREUSE KANGAMOOSE”?

Innovative and thoroughly enjoyable. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: March 27, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4998-0534-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little Bee Books

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2018

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