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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A forgettable tale.

THE LITTLEST REINDEER

Dot, the smallest reindeer at the North Pole, is too little to fly with the reindeer team on Christmas Eve, but she helps Santa in a different, unexpected way.

Dot is distressed because she can’t jump and fly like the other, bigger reindeer. Her family members encourage her and help her practice her skills, and her mother tells her, “There’s always next year.” Dot’s elf friend, Oliver, encourages her and spends time playing with her, doing things that Dot can do well, such as building a snowman and chasing their friend Yeti (who looks like a fuzzy, white gumdrop). On Christmas Eve, Santa and the reindeer team take off with their overloaded sleigh. Only Dot notices one small present that’s fallen in the snow, and she successfully leaps into the departing sleigh with the gift. This climactic flying leap into the sleigh is not adequately illustrated, as Dot is shown just starting to leap and then already in the sleigh. A saccharine conclusion notes that being little can sometimes be great and that “having a friend by your side makes anything possible.” The story is pleasant but predictable, with an improbably easy solution to Dot’s problem. Illustrations in a muted palette are similarly pleasant but predictable, with a greeting-card flavor that lacks originality. The elf characters include boys, girls, and adults; all the elves and Santa and Mrs. Claus are white.

A forgettable tale. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-338-15738-3

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Cartwheel/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Aug. 21, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2017

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A sweet reminder that it’s easy to weather a storm with the company and kindness of friends.

GOOD NIGHT, LITTLE BLUE TRUCK

Is it a stormy-night scare or a bedtime book? Both!

Little Blue Truck and his good friend Toad are heading home when a storm lets loose. Before long, their familiar, now very nervous barnyard friends (Goat, Hen, Goose, Cow, Duck, and Pig) squeeze into the garage. Blue explains that “clouds bump and tumble in the sky, / but here inside we’re warm and dry, / and all the thirsty plants below / will get a drink to help them grow!” The friends begin to relax. “Duck said, loud as he could quack it, / ‘THUNDER’S JUST A NOISY RACKET!’ ” In the quiet after the storm, the barnyard friends are sleepy, but the garage is not their home. “ ‘Beep!’ said Blue. ‘Just hop inside. / All aboard for the bedtime ride!’ ” Young readers will settle down for their own bedtimes as Blue and Toad drop each friend at home and bid them a good night before returning to the garage and their own beds. “Blue gave one small sleepy ‘Beep.’ / Then Little Blue Truck fell fast asleep.” Joseph’s rich nighttime-blue illustrations (done “in the style of [series co-creator] Jill McElmurry”) highlight the power of the storm and capture the still serenity that follows. Little Blue Truck has been chugging along since 2008, but there seems to be plenty of gas left in the tank.

A sweet reminder that it’s easy to weather a storm with the company and kindness of friends. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Oct. 22, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-328-85213-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: June 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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