This empathetic tale ends with a question all would do well to contemplate: “Can we do this again tomorrow?” (Picture book....

HURRY UP, HENRY

Today’s hectic way of life might overwhelm children who need a slower pace.

Like many young children, protagonist Henry, a little black boy, is fascinated by the world around him. He enjoys taking his time on his way to school or anywhere else, but his family operates on a tight daily schedule, one with little time for reverie. In contrast to Henry, his best friend, Simon, a little Asian boy, has the opposite problem: he does everything too quickly. When they play, “they get a lot done”—but then Henry has to recover by lying still in the dark. Luckily, Grandma understands Henry and shows him a way to manage time efficiently. And when Henry’s birthday approaches, Simon decides on the best present ever, but only if Grandma will help him pull it off. Simon’s gift gives the family exactly what they did not know they needed. Author Lanthier’s quiet text sets a patient tone for this familiar situation that frustrates many young families. Malenfant’s subtle color scheme and watercolor/pastel mixed media complement the text, varying vignettes and quiet double-page spreads to visually evoke the different paces of Henry’s world. The repetition of clock motifs, fanciful flora and fauna, and changes in scale add a touch of magical realism that furthers the book’s emotional themes.

This empathetic tale ends with a question all would do well to contemplate: “Can we do this again tomorrow?” (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 6, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-670-06837-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Puffin/Penguin Random House Canada

Review Posted Online: June 28, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2016

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A good bet for the youngest bird-watchers.

MAMA BUILT A LITTLE NEST

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. 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2014

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A cozy story that will transport readers to faraway places.

A GIFT FOR NANA

All gifts are perfect when they come from the heart.

Rabbit goes on a “journey through a green and grand forest” in order to get a gift for his nana even though it is “not even a major hare holiday.” He travels very far in search of the perfect gift and encounters many new friends whom he asks for help. Each of them proffers Rabbit something they can easily make or acquire: The moon offers a “crescent smile,” a whale proposes a glass of water, and so on. Ultimately, Rabbit finds the perfect gift for Nana all on his own, and his nana absolutely adores it. Although the story is a bit predictable, it is amusing—readers will laugh at the anthropomorphic volcano’s explosion and Rabbit’s exhaustion from his journey, among other chucklesome scenes. Smith’s gesso, oil, and cold wax illustrations are exquisite and almost ethereal. The friendly, many-eyed creature referred to as a “stickler” is at once haunting and intriguing. The moon is Tim Burton–esque and seems to glow and pop off the page. Pleased with his choice of gift, Rabbit has the moon’s smile on his face. The predominance of full-bleed double-page spreads accentuates Rabbit’s long quest. The different font sizes, styles, and colors will aid emerging readers with diction when reading aloud but might prove difficult for those with dyslexia. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A cozy story that will transport readers to faraway places. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: April 12, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-43033-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Random House Studio

Review Posted Online: Jan. 25, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2022

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