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THE HIDDEN FOREST

Vivid, inventive collages by author/artist Jeannie Baker make this picture book on the hidden underwater world of kelp forests a compelling addition to the ecology section of school and public libraries. For her collages, the author/artist used collected natural materials, (pressed seaweed, sand, and sponges) or translucent artist's clay to model kelp and resin to make seawater. These visually striking illustrations extend the story of Ben, a young boy who holds little regard for sea life. When his fish trap is tangled in the kelp, he enlists the help of his snorkeling friend, Sophie, to free it. Sophie takes Ben under the sea where he discovers the enchanted world of the kelp forest and its inhabitants. Small fish skitter near and a benign whale glides by, a gray shadow with barnacles and an enormous eye. Throughout, the kelp holds center stage against an intense blue sea. The lush and varied kelp shimmers, sways, and stretches in the tide. `When the kelp touches him, it feels like velvet swirling against his skin.` He returns to the surface of the sea with a greater appreciation of the sea and the life within it. As with other picture book ecology titles by Baker (The Story of Rosy Dock, 1995, etc.) this title captivates the viewer while celebrating the environment. Not to be missed. (Picture book. 59)

Pub Date: March 31, 2000

ISBN: 0-688-15760-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2000

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BECAUSE I HAD A TEACHER

A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift.

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A paean to teachers and their surrogates everywhere.

This gentle ode to a teacher’s skill at inspiring, encouraging, and being a role model is spoken, presumably, from a child’s viewpoint. However, the voice could equally be that of an adult, because who can’t look back upon teachers or other early mentors who gave of themselves and offered their pupils so much? Indeed, some of the self-aware, self-assured expressions herein seem perhaps more realistic as uttered from one who’s already grown. Alternatively, readers won’t fail to note that this small book, illustrated with gentle soy-ink drawings and featuring an adult-child bear duo engaged in various sedentary and lively pursuits, could just as easily be about human parent- (or grandparent-) child pairs: some of the softly colored illustrations depict scenarios that are more likely to occur within a home and/or other family-oriented setting. Makes sense: aren’t parents and other close family members children’s first teachers? This duality suggests that the book might be best shared one-on-one between a nostalgic adult and a child who’s developed some self-confidence, having learned a thing or two from a parent, grandparent, older relative, or classroom instructor.

A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-943200-08-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Compendium

Review Posted Online: Dec. 13, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

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TALES FOR VERY PICKY EATERS

Broccoli: No way is James going to eat broccoli. “It’s disgusting,” says James. Well then, James, says his father, let’s consider the alternatives: some wormy dirt, perhaps, some stinky socks, some pre-chewed gum? James reconsiders the broccoli, but—milk? “Blech,” says James. Right, says his father, who needs strong bones? You’ll be great at hide-and-seek, though not so great at baseball and kickball and even tickling the dog’s belly. James takes a mouthful. So it goes through lumpy oatmeal, mushroom lasagna and slimy eggs, with James’ father parrying his son’s every picky thrust. And it is fun, because the father’s retorts are so outlandish: the lasagna-making troll in the basement who will be sent back to the rat circus, there to endure the rodent’s vicious bites; the uneaten oatmeal that will grow and grow and probably devour the dog that the boy won’t be able to tickle any longer since his bones are so rubbery. Schneider’s watercolors catch the mood of gentle ribbing, the looks of bewilderment and surrender and the deadpanned malarkey. It all makes James’ father’s last urging—“I was just going to say that you might like them if you tried them”—wholly fresh and unexpected advice. (Early reader. 5-9)

Pub Date: May 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-547-14956-1

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Clarion Books

Review Posted Online: April 4, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2011

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