TWO OLD POTATOES AND ME

A father and daughter bond after divorce by turning two old potatoes (“Gross!”) into a gardening project. The daughter narrates, month by month, as the two plant, cultivate, and ultimately harvest their crop, the gardening work lightened by water fights and conversation. Energetic mixed-media illustrations depict a dark-skinned father and a lighter-skinned daughter in a painless and message-free representation of a biracial family, complementing the low-key handling of the post-divorce relationship. Coy’s narration is colloquial and casual and just right. Fisher’s illustrations, however, are anything but casual, busily incorporating the text into the design in a way that is clearly meant to be organic but ends up frequently making the letters difficult to read. This overdesign is unfortunate, as the optimism and good cheer of the total package are undeniably appealing. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: June 10, 2003

ISBN: 0-375-82180-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2003

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BECAUSE YOUR DADDY LOVES YOU

Give this child’s-eye view of a day at the beach with an attentive father high marks for coziness: “When your ball blows across the sand and into the ocean and starts to drift away, your daddy could say, Didn’t I tell you not to play too close to the waves? But he doesn’t. He wades out into the cold water. And he brings your ball back to the beach and plays roll and catch with you.” Alley depicts a moppet and her relaxed-looking dad (to all appearances a single parent) in informally drawn beach and domestic settings: playing together, snuggling up on the sofa and finally hugging each other goodnight. The third-person voice is a bit distancing, but it makes the togetherness less treacly, and Dad’s mix of love and competence is less insulting, to parents and children both, than Douglas Wood’s What Dads Can’t Do (2000), illus by Doug Cushman. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: May 23, 2005

ISBN: 0-618-00361-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Clarion Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2005

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A good bet for the youngest bird-watchers.

MAMA BUILT A LITTLE NEST

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. 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2014

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