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

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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“It’s time to head back home,” the narrator concludes. “You’ve touched the Earth in so many ways.” Who knew it would be so...

TOUCH THE EARTH

From the Julian Lennon White Feather Flier Adventure series , Vol. 1

A pro bono Twinkie of a book invites readers to fly off in a magic plane to bring clean water to our planet’s oceans, deserts, and brown children.

Following a confusingly phrased suggestion beneath a soft-focus world map to “touch the Earth. Now touch where you live,” a shake of the volume transforms it into a plane with eyes and feathered wings that flies with the press of a flat, gray “button” painted onto the page. Pressing like buttons along the journey releases a gush of fresh water from the ground—and later, illogically, provides a filtration device that changes water “from yucky to clean”—for thirsty groups of smiling, brown-skinned people. At other stops, a tap on the button will “help irrigate the desert,” and touching floating bottles and other debris in the ocean supposedly makes it all disappear so the fish can return. The 20 children Coh places on a globe toward the end are varied of skin tone, but three of the four young saviors she plants in the flier’s cockpit as audience stand-ins are white. The closing poem isn’t so openly parochial, though it seldom rises above vague feel-good sentiments: “Love the Earth, the moon and sun. / All the children can be one.”

“It’s time to head back home,” the narrator concludes. “You’ve touched the Earth in so many ways.” Who knew it would be so easy to clean the place up and give everyone a drink? (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: April 11, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-5107-2083-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Sky Pony Press

Review Posted Online: Feb. 4, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2017

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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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