Sweet, though oddly mixed of message.

READ REVIEW

THE WEE SEAL

Simple line drawings with watercolor accompany this gentle tale of how young Jamie’s awareness of the life cycle of a baby seal lying on the beach near the boy’s home empowers him to turn back ignorant, potentially harmful tourists.

The book begins poetically: “It came in the night / when the world was asleep, / that strange white stone on the beach.” Jamie discovers that the “stone” is actually a baby seal, and for days, he greets the pup morning and evening, knowing that the “wee seal’s mum” cares for her baby each night. But the pup attracts the wrong kind of attention. An amusing double-page spread shows an aerial view of tourists leaning in too closely over the bemused seal, after which Jamie rushes in with a sign that proclaims, “the seal has a Mum. Leeve alon plees. Jamie.” Jamie’s diligence gives the seal time to shed its baby fur and grow, following its mother’s song into the sea when it has reached proper maturity. Ironically, Jamie’s backyard beach sports the same litter daily, including one of the most reviled human killers of wildlife: a balloon. The text further acknowledges human waste without censure when the pup has to “rock all the way round a broken creel” as it returns to sea. This presents a potent disconnect in a boy (and a book) otherwise environmentally minded.

Sweet, though oddly mixed of message. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: May 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-7825-0020-9

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Floris

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2014

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Though this celebration of community is joyful, there just is not much here.

ONE LOVE

A sugary poem, very loosely based on the familiar song, lacks focus.

Using only the refrain from the original (“One love, one heart, let’s get together and feel all right!”), the reggae great’s daughter Cedella Marley sees this song as her “happy song” and adapts it for children. However, the adaptation robs it of life. After the opening lines, readers familiar with the original song (or the tourism advertisement for Jamaica) will be humming along only to be stopped by the bland lines that follow: “One love, what the flower gives the bee.” and then “One love, what Mother Earth gives the tree.” Brantley-Newton’s sunny illustrations perfectly reflect the saccharine quality of the text. Starting at the beginning of the day, readers see a little girl first in bed, under a photograph of Bob Marley, the sun streaming into her room, a bird at the window. Each spread is completely redundant—when the text is about family love, the illustration actually shows little hearts floating from her parents to the little girl. An image of a diverse group getting ready to plant a community garden, walking on top of a river accompanies the words “One love, like the river runs to the sea.”

Though this celebration of community is joyful, there just is not much here. (afterword) (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Oct. 5, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-4521-0224-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: April 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2011

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

PRINCESSES WEAR PANTS

This book wants to be feminist.

Princess Penelope Pineapple, illustrated as a white girl with dark hair and eyes, is the Amelia Bloomer of the Pineapple Kingdom. She has dresses, but she prefers to wear pants as she engages in myriad activities ranging from yoga to gardening, from piloting a plane to hosting a science fair. When it’s time for the Pineapple Ball, she imagines wearing a sparkly pants outfit, but she worries about Grand Lady Busyboots’ disapproval: “ ‘Pants have no place on a lady!’ she’d say. / ‘That’s how it has been, and that’s how it shall stay.’ ” In a moment of seeming dissonance between the text and art, Penny seems to resolve to wear pants, but then she shows up to the ball in a gown. This apparent contradiction is resolved when the family cat, Miss Fussywiggles, falls from the castle into the moat and Princess Penelope saves her—after stripping off her gown to reveal pink, flowered swimming trunks and a matching top. Impressed, Grand Lady Busyboots resolves that princesses can henceforth wear whatever they wish. While seeing a princess as savior rather than damsel in distress may still seem novel, it seems a stretch to cast pants-wearing as a broadly contested contemporary American feminist issue. Guthrie and Oppenheim’s unimaginative, singsong rhyme is matched in subtlety by Byrne’s bright illustrations.

Skip it . (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Sept. 12, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4197-2603-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: July 2, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2017

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more