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Ultimately like Snowzilla—fluff.

Community dissension and compromise are brought down to a kid’s level in this tale of a giant snowman.

With a little help from their family, some equipment and Mother Nature, Cami Lou and her little brother build a huge snowman sporting a hat, scarf and arms with five mittens/gloves each. “Then Cami Lou cheered / as she stood down below. / ‘We’ll call you Snowzilla! / Our giant of snow!’ ” People come from all around to see Snowzilla, but when the townspeople complain of blocked views, scared pets and the threat of flood, the judge rules that he must go. The modern-day girl turns to social media to save her snowman, and the next day, in an operation that could be likened to the moving of the Cape Hatteras lighthouse, people turn out in droves to help hoist and move Snowzilla. But for all the hoopla, Cami Lou is not particularly sad when Snowzilla melts—she is busy planning something even bigger for next year, a disconnect that might catch readers’ attention. Haley’s brightly colored acrylic-and–colored-pencil artwork lends a festive feel to the text. Over-the-top patterns and styles of winter clothing, along with the hairstyles and grimaces of the sourpusses, give her characters personality. The power of a community to pull together and solve problems is definitely in evidence here, though the tale’s sheer implausibility and its sometimes-stumbling rhythms may turn readers off.

Ultimately like Snowzilla—fluff. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 2, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-7614-6188-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Amazon Children's Publishing

Review Posted Online: Sept. 11, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2012

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A good bet for the youngest bird-watchers.

Echoing the meter of “Mary Had a Little Lamb,” Ward uses catchy original rhymes to describe the variety of nests birds create.

Each sweet stanza is complemented by a factual, engaging description of the nesting habits of each bird. Some of the notes are intriguing, such as the fact that the hummingbird uses flexible spider web to construct its cup-shaped nest so the nest will stretch as the chicks grow. An especially endearing nesting behavior is that of the emperor penguin, who, with unbelievable patience, incubates the egg between his tummy and his feet for up to 60 days. The author clearly feels a mission to impart her extensive knowledge of birds and bird behavior to the very young, and she’s found an appealing and attractive way to accomplish this. The simple rhymes on the left page of each spread, written from the young bird’s perspective, will appeal to younger children, and the notes on the right-hand page of each spread provide more complex factual information that will help parents answer further questions and satisfy the curiosity of older children. Jenkins’ accomplished collage illustrations of common bird species—woodpecker, hummingbird, cowbird, emperor penguin, eagle, owl, wren—as well as exotics, such as flamingoes and hornbills, are characteristically naturalistic and accurate in detail.

A good bet for the youngest bird-watchers.   (author’s note, further resources) (Informational picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 18, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4424-2116-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Beach Lane/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Jan. 3, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2014

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A solid, small step for diversifying STEM stories.

What does Annie want to be?

As career day approaches, Annie wants to keep her job choice secret until her family sees her presentation at school. Readers will figure it out, however, through the title and clues Tadgell incorporates into the illustrations. Family members make guesses about her ambitions that are tied to their own passions, although her brother watches as she completes her costume in a bedroom with a Mae Jemison poster, starry décor, and a telescope. There’s a celebratory mood at the culminating presentation, where Annie says she wants to “soar high through the air” like her basketball-playing mother, “explore faraway places” like her hiker dad, and “be brave and bold” like her baker grandmother (this feels forced, but oven mitts are part of her astronaut costume) so “the whole world will hear my exciting stories” like her reporter grandfather. Annie jumps off a chair to “BLAST OFF” in a small illustration superimposed on a larger picture depicting her floating in space with a reddish ground below. It’s unclear if Annie imagines this scene or if it’s her future-self exploring Mars, but either scenario fits the aspirational story. Backmatter provides further reading suggestions and information about the moon and four women astronauts, one of whom is Jemison. Annie and her family are all black.

A solid, small step for diversifying STEM stories. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 6, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-88448-523-0

Page Count: 36

Publisher: Tilbury House

Review Posted Online: Feb. 3, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2018

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