Yank those plugs, everyone. Connect with family and friends instead.

DOT. UNPLUGGED

Deny devices, turn off, tune out. That’s the unsubtle message in this picture book.

It’s raining. Indoors, Dot and her bestie, Hal, are playing a video game. Dad’s at his computer; Mom’s at her circuit board. Suddenly, the power goes out. Mom remembers it’s the National Day of Unplugging, announcing this means using “Nothing that runs on anything but our good old imaginations.” When the family descends to the basement searching for something to do, Scratch the dog finds a spinner game. Each of its five segments bears a simple image representing a task a player must perform when the arrow they spin lands on it. Creative play ensues, and Dot concludes that “Unplugging is fun!” The story will work equally well as a lapsit or a read-aloud to a group. It’s OK the exhortation’s obvious; kids will get that there’s life beyond the plugged-in kind. The colorful, cartoon illustrations are flat, but faces are expressive (even the dog’s). Dot, with strangely slate-gray hair, is garbed in yellow boots and a pink, polka-dot dress. She and her mom have pale pink skin; Dad’s skin is light tan; Hal is brown-skinned. The final page informs readers that the National Day of Unplugging is the second Friday in March and lists 50 “unplugged” activities. Readers/listeners should be encouraged to suggest and engage in other device-free pursuits.

Yank those plugs, everyone. Connect with family and friends instead. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Feb. 11, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5362-0983-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick Entertainment

Review Posted Online: Sept. 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2019

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Bittersweet—would that climate change were so easily solved.

SONG FOR THE SNOW

For the past two winters snow hasn’t come to Freya’s town. Will an old, forgotten song help to bring it back?

In language that is almost poetic, Lappano tells the story of Freya, who loved the way snow looked and felt, and how the air changed when snow was coming. It’s been two winters now since it last came, and Freya is afraid her memories of snow are fading. At the market with her father, “a soft, twinkling melody danced in Freya’s ears.” Following the sound, Freya finds a woman holding a snow-globe music box. She gifts Freya the globe and tells her it plays an old and special song. For generations, says the woman, the song was sung by the townspeople, and some believed it was “the magic of the song that called the snow home.” Back home, her mother remembers the words, but though Freya sings them over many days, the snow does not come. Eventually, she teaches the words to her friends, who take the song home, and soon “the song once again filled their homes and hearts.” And finally (and predictably), the snow comes. Eggenschwiler’s artwork matches the gentle and magical telling of the story with textural illustrations in a limited palette of soft colors. Freya, her family, and the woman present White; the townspeople are racially diverse. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Bittersweet—would that climate change were so easily solved. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 7, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-77306-268-6

Page Count: 44

Publisher: Groundwood

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2021

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An intimate encounter with nature lit not just by stars and fireflies, but also an affecting dose of daddy-daughter warmth.

IT'S A FIREFLY NIGHT

On a summer’s night, a child sails out into her yard to gather (and then release) lightning bugs.

Just like the stars that seem to wink and glimmer in Snyder’s moonlit, mist-streaked night skies, fireflies glow in the grass amid scattered trees and flowers. They smile in close-up views as the child, barefoot and nightgown-clad, gently gathers them into a big jar while her father looks on. Reflecting that “I love catching fireflies, / but they are not mine,” she cups each captive in her hand before “easy and slow, / I whisper good-bye, / then I let it go!” A spread of firefly facts caps the idyllic nighttime foray. Rough sparkly patches on the jacket add a tactile element that compensates, at least in part, for inner flaps that cover parts of the endpaper nightscapes. The bugs and brushwork resemble Eric Carle’s, but Snyder’s art works its own magic.

An intimate encounter with nature lit not just by stars and fireflies, but also an affecting dose of daddy-daughter warmth. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: May 14, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-60905-291-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Blue Apple

Review Posted Online: April 14, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2013

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