Simplistic science with appealing illustrations and a catchy text.

READ REVIEW

AT THE MARSH IN THE MEADOW

A simple text slowly adds members of a marsh food chain, “House That Jack Built”–style, from mud to raptors.

 A serene double-page spread with vivid sunrise colors and an early morning mist proclaims: “This is the marsh / in the middle of the meadow.” Equally artistically enticing pages follow, with: “This is the mucky mud / On the bottom of the marsh / In the middle of the meadow.” The text continues in the tradition of a cumulative folk rhyme, using colorful language that complements the vibrant art. “This is the big eagle / That swoops from up high / To grasp the fish / That gulp down the tadpoles / That slurp up the minnows….” Even at its very longest, the cumulative rhyme ends with “the reeds / That grow in the mucky mud / On the bottom of the marsh / In the middle of the meadow.” The fairly sophisticated content and vocabulary seem ill-suited to the nursery-rhyme format, begging the question of audience. As with many food-chain explanations aimed at children, the producer and consumer parts are well-developed, and the decomposers receive no mention. Is this because the decomposers would have to eat the dead remains from the other categories, and live eaglets are more appealing than anything dead? This is understandable, but it seems to force the audience to a younger range than the recommended early-elementary children.

Simplistic science with appealing illustrations and a catchy text. (author’s notes, glossary) (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-58536-958-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sleeping Bear Press

Review Posted Online: Oct. 19, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2015

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It’s gratifying to see Lola’s love of books leading her to new experiences.

LOLA PLANTS A GARDEN

From the Lola & Leo series

Hoping to have a garden like the one in her poetry book, Lola plants seeds, waits and weeds, and finally celebrates with friends.

The author and illustrator of Lola Loves Stories (2010) and its companion titles take their appealing character outside. Inspired by her favorite poem, the nursery rhyme “Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary” (repeated on the front endpapers), Lola chooses her favorite flowers from library books. Helped by her parents, she grows a grandly diverse flower garden, just right for a celebration with peas and strawberries from the family plot. Beardshaw’s acrylic illustrations show her garden in all its stages. They also show the copper-toned preschooler reading on her mother’s lap, making a flower book, a beaded string with bells and shells, a little Mary Mary doll and cupcakes for the celebration. Her bunchy ponytails are redone, and her flower shirt is perfect for the party. Not only has she provided the setting; she makes up a story for her friends. The simple sentences of the text and charming pictures make this a good choice for reading aloud or early reading alone. On the rear endpapers, the nursery rhyme has been adapted to celebrate “Lola, Lola, Extraordinary.”

It’s gratifying to see Lola’s love of books leading her to new experiences. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Aug. 5, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-58089-694-8

Page Count: 28

Publisher: Charlesbridge

Review Posted Online: June 10, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2014

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While there are many rhyming truck books out there, this stands out for being a collection of poems.

DIGGER, DOZER, DUMPER

Rhyming poems introduce children to anthropomorphized trucks of all sorts, as well as the jobs that they do.

Adorable multiethnic children are the drivers of these 16 trucks—from construction equipment to city trucks, rescue vehicles and a semi—easily standing in for readers, a point made very clear on the final spread. Varying rhyme schemes and poem lengths help keep readers’ attention. For the most part, the rhymes and rhythms work, as in this, from “Cement Mixer”: “No time to wait; / he can’t sit still. / He has to beg your pardon. / For if he dawdles on the way, / his slushy load will harden.” Slonim’s trucks each sport an expressive pair of eyes, but the anthropomorphism stops there, at least in the pictures—Vestergaard sometimes takes it too far, as in “Bulldozer”: “He’s not a bully, either, / although he’s big and tough. / He waits his turn, plays well with friends, / and pushes just enough.” A few trucks’ jobs get short shrift, to mixed effect: “Skid-Steer Loader” focuses on how this truck moves without the typical steering wheel, but “Semi” runs with a royalty analogy and fails to truly impart any knowledge. The acrylic-and-charcoal artwork, set against white backgrounds, keeps the focus on the trucks and the jobs they are doing.

While there are many rhyming truck books out there, this stands out for being a collection of poems. (Picture book/poetry. 3-6)

Pub Date: Aug. 27, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-7636-5078-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: May 29, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2013

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