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A lively glimpse of a weird and wonderful bird.

A hoatzin and his son demonstrate their most amazing characteristic.

In this colorful introduction to the Amazon rainforest bird sometimes called the “stinkbird,” a father describes some distinctive traits, leading up to the revelation of the species’ “superpower.” That power isn’t in its “poopy smell,” which puts predators off adult hoatzins (though not chicks). It’s not its loud song. It’s not its habit of constructing precarious nests, perched over rivers where predators are less likely to reach the chicks, nor is it the fact that baby hoatzins can swim. It’s that the chicks have claws on their wings that allow them to climb back into the nests when they fall out. These scientific facts are embedded in a cheerful and humorous tale. Stylized digital illustrations show a gloriously red and orange father talking to his exuberant purple son in a cartoonlike rainforest setting. One scene depicts a forest full of potential predators, represented only by eyes in the shadows. Another gives faces to these threats—monkeys, snakes, and large birds. The father’s simple narrative is directed at readers and set directly on the images. Yellow speech bubbles indicate what he says to his son; the chick’s responses are in blue speech bubbles. Highlighting characteristics that will appeal to the intended audience (they’ll find the poop-related parts especially hilarious), this book would be a treat for a nature-themed storytime. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A lively glimpse of a weird and wonderful bird. (“true or false?” facts about hoatzins) (Informational picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: May 16, 2023

ISBN: 9780593529522

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: Feb. 24, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2023

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Renata’s wren encounter proves magical, one most children could only wish to experience outside of this lovely story.

A home-renovation project is interrupted by a family of wrens, allowing a young girl an up-close glimpse of nature.

Renata and her father enjoy working on upgrading their bathroom, installing a clawfoot bathtub, and cutting a space for a new window. One warm night, after Papi leaves the window space open, two wrens begin making a nest in the bathroom. Rather than seeing it as an unfortunate delay of their project, Renata and Papi decide to let the avian carpenters continue their work. Renata witnesses the birth of four chicks as their rosy eggs split open “like coats that are suddenly too small.” Renata finds at a crucial moment that she can help the chicks learn to fly, even with the bittersweet knowledge that it will only hasten their exits from her life. Rosen uses lively language and well-chosen details to move the story of the baby birds forward. The text suggests the strong bond built by this Afro-Latinx father and daughter with their ongoing project without needing to point it out explicitly, a light touch in a picture book full of delicate, well-drawn moments and precise wording. Garoche’s drawings are impressively detailed, from the nest’s many small bits to the developing first feathers on the chicks and the wall smudges and exposed wiring of the renovation. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10-by-20-inch double-page spreads viewed at actual size.)

Renata’s wren encounter proves magical, one most children could only wish to experience outside of this lovely story. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: March 16, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-12320-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Schwartz & Wade/Random

Review Posted Online: Jan. 12, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2021

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From the Izzy Gizmo series

A disappointing follow-up.

Inventor Izzy Gizmo is back in this sequel to her eponymous debut (2017).

While busily inventing one day, Izzy receives an invitation from the Genius Guild to their annual convention. Though Izzy’s “inventions…don’t always work,” Grandpa (apparently her sole caregiver) encourages her to go. The next day they undertake a long journey “over fields, hills, and waves” and “mile after mile” to isolated Technoff Isle. There, Izzy finds she must compete against four other kids to create the most impressive machine. The colorful, detail-rich illustrations chronicle how poor Izzy is thwarted at every turn by Abi von Lavish, a Veruca Salt–esque character who takes all the supplies for herself. But when Abi abandons her project, Izzy salvages the pieces and decides to take Grandpa’s advice to create a machine that “can really be put to good use.” A frustrated Izzy’s impatience with a friend almost foils her chance at the prize, but all’s well that ends well. There’s much to like: Brown-skinned inventor girl Izzy is an appealing character, it’s great to see a nurturing brown-skinned male caregiver, the idea of an “Invention Convention” is fun, and a sustainable-energy invention is laudable. However, these elements don’t make up for rhymes that often feel forced and a lackluster story.

A disappointing follow-up. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: March 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-68263-164-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Peachtree

Review Posted Online: Jan. 11, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

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