Just another superb outing from a fixed star twinkling in the children’s-literature firmament.

TWINKLE, TWINKLE, LITTLE STAR

In Pinkney’s sumptuous elaboration of the familiar lullaby a chipmunk’s nighttime odyssey takes on the same epic scope as his Caldecott winning The Lion and the Mouse (2009).

Seamlessly tweaking a later version of the multi-verse 1806 original with minor changes in wording and repeated insertions of the first two lines as a chorus, the illustrator follows a furry traveler—who is often posed as if in song—through verdant tangles of dandelions and other flowers, up a tree and into an empty robin’s nest. With a turn of the page, that nest is transformed into a small boat (and the chipmunk acquires a sailor suit) that sails into the starry sky. The adventure briefly takes on an anxious cast when a gust topples the tiny explorer into a pond of much larger fish and other creatures, but a swan glides to the rescue and gently wings its little passenger up to the smiling Moon. Rendering natural details with typical accuracy, Pinkney fills his intimate watercolor close-ups with rippling leaves and rhythmic shifts of color that simultaneously create a feeling of active, if dreamlike energy while echoing the poem’s quiet cadences. He intersperses wordless interludes, either single pictures or short sequences, to create a unified story line and finishes with a final view of the dreamer curled up (still in that sailor suit) on a bed of soft leaves and down.

Just another superb outing from a fixed star twinkling in the children’s-literature firmament. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Oct. 3, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-316-05696-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Aug. 24, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2011

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Inspiring, adventurous fun for aspirational kids.

SADIE SPROCKET BUILDS A ROCKET

A little girl’s imaginative plan to become an astronaut and be the first to travel to Mars really takes off.

Together with a crew of stuffed animals (owl, rabbit, and teddy bear), Sadie Sprocket does her research, gathers materials to build her spaceship, and, with support from family and friends—and media coverage—embarks on her historic journey. Rhyming quatrains tell the story of how Sadie patiently reads, cooks, and records important data during the 100-day interplanetary journey. And then: “The Earth behind, so far away, / was now a tiny dot. / Then Sadie cried, ‘There’s planet Mars! / It’s smaller than I thought!’ ” After landing and gathering 20 bags of samples, Sadie and crew are stuck in a red sandstorm while trying to take off again. But with Sadie’s determination and can-do spirit, they blast off, safely returning to Earth with future heroic space-exploration ideas in mind. Spiky cartoons transform a child’s playroom into an outer-space venue, complete with twinkling stars and colorful planets. Sadie presents White while her encouraging fans feature more diversity. An addendum includes brief facts about Mars and a handful of women space scientists. (This book was reviewed digitally with 11-by-17-inch double-page spreads viewed at 50% of actual size.)

Inspiring, adventurous fun for aspirational kids. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5420-1803-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Two Lions

Review Posted Online: Nov. 18, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

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An engaging story arguing for the marriage of technology with creativity and play.

DOLL-E 1.0

A young girl receives a puzzling gift.

Young Charlotte has always been the most tech-savvy member of her family, helping her mother with a tablet and her father with the smart TV. After Charlotte’s parents observe a news report cautioning against letting kids get “too techy,” the couple presents Charlotte with a doll. The doll doesn’t move or think—it simply sits and utters the word “Ma-ma.” Charlotte reasons that for a doll to talk it must have a power supply, and with a few modifications and a little imagination, Charlotte’s doll becomes Doll-E 1.0. The STEM-friendly narrative is brought to life with charming pencil-and-watercolor illustrations, edited in Photoshop. The scratchy lines are reminiscent of the pictures children like Charlotte sketch at their drawing boards, and the dynamic compositions burst with energy. Charlotte is an engaging character, expressive and thoughtful in equal measure. Charlotte’s doll is adorably rendered, looking mostly like any other common doll but just unique enough that little ones may want one of their own. Charlotte and her family present white; little dog Bluetooth is a scruffy, white terrier.

An engaging story arguing for the marriage of technology with creativity and play. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: May 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-316-51031-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Feb. 13, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2018

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