Not the most original offering but a reassuringly fresh and simple take on nature in a complex world.

READ REVIEW

LITTLE BLUE HOUSE BESIDE THE SEA

A solitary child rejoices in the special beauty of a seaside home.

Nattily dressed in green sweater, stocking cap, and orange leggings, the little redhead walks home from school over the cliff tops to a tiny blue house, first waving goodbye to school friends, one white, like the protagonist, and one a child of color. Along the way, the child admires the bees in the flowers, the puffins “with drooping fishes in their bills,” and humpback whales breaching and observes the beauty of the ocean in all its moods. When a storm blows up, the child runs to the safe little cottage “that keeps me from the storm winds’ might.” Simple rhyming couplets and colorful, textured collages make this book evocative and charming, even for children who may not be familiar with the ocean. This young child seems to live independently in the titular house; while improbable, this is a fantasy that many readers will find appealing. In a final note, the author describes her connection with Newfoundland, where the little blue house of the title is located, and her fascination with the idea that the endless ocean could connect friends “who love the ocean as I do, and want to keep it safe, alive, and beautiful.”

Not the most original offering but a reassuringly fresh and simple take on nature in a complex world. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-88448-671-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Tilbury House

Review Posted Online: March 25, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2020

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Readers (and listeners) will think that this book is the bee’s knees.

THE HONEYBEE

Children will be buzzing to learn more about honeybees after reading this story.

Hall takes her readers on a sunny romp through a springtime pasture abuzz with friendly honeybees in this bright and cheerful picture book. Hall’s rhyme scheme is inviting and mirrors the staccato sounds of a bee buzzing. At times, however, meaning seems to take a back seat to the rhyme. The bees are suggested to “tap” while flying, a noise that adult readers might have trouble explaining to curious listeners. Later, the “hill” the bees return to may elicit further questions, as this point is not addressed textually or visually. Minor quibbles aside, the vocabulary is on-point as the bees demonstrate the various stages of nectar collection and honey creation. Arsenault’s illustrations, a combination of ink, gouache, graphite, and colored pencil, are energetic and cheerful. Extra points should be awarded for properly illustrating a natural honeybee hive (as opposed to the often depicted wasp nest). The expressive bees are also well-done. Their faces are welcoming, but their sharp noses hint at the stingers that may be lurking behind them. Hall’s ending note to readers will be appreciated by adults but will require their interpretation to be accessible to children. A sensible choice for read-alouds and STEAM programs.

Readers (and listeners) will think that this book is the bee’s knees. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: May 8, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4814-6997-5

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: March 18, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2018

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The outing may earn a few clicks from hand-wringing parents; young digerati will roll their eyes and go back to texting.

TEK

THE MODERN CAVE BOY

McDonnell has a bone to pick with a young Stone Age gamer who won’t leave the family cave.

The Caldecott Honor–winning cartoonist takes an uncharacteristically curmudgeonly tone in this tablet-shaped book. Depicted, in black-framed, rounded-cornered illustrations designed to look like screenshots, in front of the stone TV with tablet and game controller to hand “all day, all night, all the time,” Tek ignores the pleas of his huge dino best friend, Larry, and all others to come out. “You should never have invented the Internet,” his mom grunts to his dad. Having missed out on evolution and an entire Ice Age, Tek is finally disconnected by a helpful volcano’s eruption—and of course is completely reformed once he gets a gander at the warm sun, cool grass, and an “awesome Awesomesaurus.” “Sweet.” Afterward, in joyous full-bleed paintings, he frolics with Larry by day and reaches for the “glorious stars” by night. This screed is as subtle as a tap from a stone axe. James Proimos’ Todd’s TV (2010) and If You Give a Mouse an iPhone by “Ann Droyd” (2014) are funnier; Matthew Cordell’s buoyant Hello! Hello! (2012) is more likely to spark a bit of behavior change. Tek and his parents are reminiscent of the Flintstones, with pink skin and dark, frizzy hair.

The outing may earn a few clicks from hand-wringing parents; young digerati will roll their eyes and go back to texting. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 4, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-316-33805-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: July 20, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2016

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