A well-designed book with a simple, approachable text and emotionally aloof illustrations.

BOATS ON THE BAY

Boats that ply the waters of California’s San Francisco Bay Area are highlighted in this picture book.

Beginning with “A houseboat rocks by a dock,” Harvey uses short sentences, with occasional internal rhymes, to introduce readers to a day of boat life on the bay. The text’s brevity is juxtaposed against McFerrin’s full-bleed double-page spreads, which, with their retro palette, cut-collage shapes, and freehand drawing overlay, are reminiscent of mid-20th-century advertising graphics. Their overall impression, though, is somewhat somber and emotionally removed since the palette leans toward the cool, blue end of the spectrum. The people illustrated are predominantly unsmiling, profile or rear-aspect adults (many white, though the stylized images permit other interpretations) who come across as preoccupied and distant rather than engaging of readers. The narrative however, is completely approachable, with a pleasing circularity, as the story ends where it began—with the houseboat, now at the end of the day. The book’s design is well thought out; the page turn after the text, “A barge sets off fiery fireworks” becomes a wordless double gatefold as the scene lifts up to show fireworks against the city skyline with boats and water in the foreground. Pleasingly, the book’s boards are imprinted with a design different from the dust jacket.

A well-designed book with a simple, approachable text and emotionally aloof illustrations. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 21, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-944903-33-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Cameron + Company

Review Posted Online: June 25, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2018

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A fair choice, but it may need some support to really blast off.

TINY LITTLE ROCKET

This rocket hopes to take its readers on a birthday blast—but there may or may not be enough fuel.

Once a year, a one-seat rocket shoots out from Earth. Why? To reveal a special congratulatory banner for a once-a-year event. The second-person narration puts readers in the pilot’s seat and, through a (mostly) ballad-stanza rhyme scheme (abcb), sends them on a journey toward the sun, past meteors, and into the Kuiper belt. The final pages include additional information on how birthdays are measured against the Earth’s rotations around the sun. Collingridge aims for the stars with this title, and he mostly succeeds. The rhyme scheme flows smoothly, which will make listeners happy, but the illustrations (possibly a combination of paint with digital enhancements) may leave the viewers feeling a little cold. The pilot is seen only with a 1960s-style fishbowl helmet that completely obscures the face, gender, and race by reflecting the interior of the rocket ship. This may allow readers/listeners to picture themselves in the role, but it also may divest them of any emotional connection to the story. The last pages—the backside of a triple-gatefold spread—label the planets and include Pluto. While Pluto is correctly labeled as a dwarf planet, it’s an unusual choice to include it but not the other dwarfs: Ceres, Eris, etc. The illustration also neglects to include the asteroid belt or any of the solar system’s moons.

A fair choice, but it may need some support to really blast off. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: July 31, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-338-18949-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: David Fickling/Phoenix/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: April 16, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2018

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Not astonishingly go-out-and-buy-it-at-graduation inspirational, but all it takes is one seed of change to be planted.

GOING PLACES

Imagination soars—quite literally—when a little girl follows her own set of rules.

Every year Oak Hill School has a go-kart race called the Going Places contest. Students are given identical go-kart kits with a precise set of instructions. And of course, every single kart ends up exactly the same. Every one, that is, except Maya’s. Maya is a dreamy artist, and she would rather sketch birds in her backyard than get caught up in the competition. When she finally does start working, she uses the parts in the go-kart box but creates something completely different. No one ever said it had to be a go-kart. Maya’s creative thinking inspires Rafael, her neighbor (and the most enthusiastic Going Places contestant), to ask to team up. The instructions never say they couldn’t work together, either! An ode to creativity and individuality to be sure, but the Reynolds brothers are also taking a swipe at modern education: Endless repetition and following instructions without question create a culture of conformity. Hopefully now, readers will see infinite possibility every time the system hands them an identical go-kart box.

Not astonishingly go-out-and-buy-it-at-graduation inspirational, but all it takes is one seed of change to be planted. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: March 18, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4424-6608-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: Jan. 15, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2014

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