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PARROTFISH HAS A SUPERPOWER

A strikingly original look at a most unusual marine creature.

What makes the parrotfish so special?

The creators of Stinkbird Has a Superpower (2023) have produced another informative, funny, and engaging tale centered on a bizarre animal fact. Boastful Parrotfish really wants to tell a hammerhead shark about its superpower, but the shark keeps interrupting. Parrotfish builds suspense by revealing other fun facts: Some parrotfish sleep in a mucus sac; they have about 1,000 hard teeth, which resemble a beak; they eat algae and polyps; and they have even more teeth in their throats! As amazing as these facts are, however, they aren’t the parrotfish’s superpower. Finally, our hero points out a sandy shore and says, “Guess who made that beach? Me!” The shark is skeptical (“You’re saying you eat coral, then poop it out as white sand…Which washes ashore….And becomes that beach?”), surprised, and finally impressed—and, as he demonstrates that he has a useful ability of his own, a friendship is born. As in Stinkbird, Shea’s colorful cartoon illustrations add greatly to the humor. Dramatic expressions and body language convey emotion, and the backgrounds provide a reasonable sense of the animals’ habitat. Parrotfish is bright eyed and vibrantly colored; the shark shows off sharp teeth. Color-coded speech bubbles convey the characters’ conversation, making it easy to identify who’s saying what. The lively presentation and ick factor make this a winner. The beach scene depicts racially diverse humans.

A strikingly original look at a most unusual marine creature. (list of true/false statements about parrotfish) (Informational picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: May 7, 2024

ISBN: 9780593532010

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: March 23, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2024

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THE MOST MAGNIFICENT THING

Spires’ understanding of the fragility and power of the artistic impulse mixes with expert pacing and subtle...

Making things is difficult work. Readers will recognize the stages of this young heroine’s experience as she struggles to realize her vision.

First comes anticipation. The artist/engineer is spotted jauntily pulling a wagonload of junkyard treasures. Accompanied by her trusty canine companion, she begins drawing plans and building an assemblage. The narration has a breezy tone: “[S]he makes things all the time. Easy-peasy!” The colorful caricatures and creations contrast with the digital black outlines on a white background that depict an urban neighborhood. Intermittent blue-gray panels break up the white expanses on selected pages showing sequential actions. When the first piece doesn’t turn out as desired, the protagonist tries again, hoping to achieve magnificence. A model of persistence, she tries many adjustments; the vocabulary alone offers constructive behaviors: she “tinkers,” “wrenches,” “fiddles,” “examines,” “stares” and “tweaks.” Such hard work, however, combines with disappointing results, eventually leading to frustration, anger and injury. Explosive emotions are followed by defeat, portrayed with a small font and scaled-down figures. When the dog, whose expressions have humorously mirrored his owner’s through each phase, retrieves his leash, the resulting stroll serves them well. A fresh perspective brings renewed enthusiasm and—spoiler alert—a most magnificent scooter sidecar for a loyal assistant.

Spires’ understanding of the fragility and power of the artistic impulse mixes with expert pacing and subtle characterization for maximum delight. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: April 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-55453-704-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Kids Can

Review Posted Online: Feb. 25, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2014

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MAMA BUILT A LITTLE NEST

A good bet for the youngest bird-watchers.

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. 3, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2014

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