An ideal introduction to nature’s complexities, wrapped up in an unexpectedly poetic package.

LITTLE FOX IN THE SNOW

In the snowy forest, a little fox is in turn the hunter and the hunted.

Opening on a young fox tucked safely inside his burrow, the second-person narration describes the fox’s day as he explores the snowy expanse, captures lunch, and surprises a wolverine, shifting the young fox from predator to prey. After a ferocious chase, the fox escapes and settles in to sleep, the narrator musing about the fox’s potential future as father to kits of his own. The tale unfolds in expressive free-form poetry. The short, evocative lines beautifully capture the dreamy stillness of the fox’s wandering, “lap[ping] tiny tongue-curls of icy cold water,” but deftly alternate with lines that burst forth with the urgency of the chase: “Little fox—you must go go go!” London’s fox is clearly wild, not a storybook animal, and Miyares doesn’t shy away from authenticity either, with the fox’s snacks shown realistically (though without gore). His painterly watercolors showcase the forest’s vastness and the rust-red fox, whose toothy gray shadow blazes against gleaming white snow. The fox exudes dignity and complexity, with the agile animal breaking the frame of an action-packed hunting page but also presenting as tiny and imperiled when pursued. While the story itself is a tad slight, words and art effectively convey the fox’s fluctuating role in the forest ecosystem.

An ideal introduction to nature’s complexities, wrapped up in an unexpectedly poetic package. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Nov. 13, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-7636-8814-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Sept. 2, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2018

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Whimsy, intelligence, and a subtle narrative thread make this rise to the top of a growing list of self-love titles.

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YOU MATTER

Employing a cast of diverse children reminiscent of that depicted in Another (2019), Robinson shows that every living entity has value.

After opening endpapers that depict an aerial view of a busy playground, the perspective shifts to a black child, ponytails tied with beaded elastics, peering into a microscope. So begins an exercise in perspective. From those bits of green life under the lens readers move to “Those who swim with the tide / and those who don’t.” They observe a “pest”—a mosquito biting a dinosaur, a “really gassy” planet, and a dog whose walker—a child in a pink hijab—has lost hold of the leash. Periodically, the examples are validated with the titular refrain. Textured paint strokes and collage elements contrast with uncluttered backgrounds that move from white to black to white. The black pages in the middle portion foreground scenes in space, including a black astronaut viewing Earth; the astronaut is holding an image of another black youngster who appears on the next spread flying a toy rocket and looking lonely. There are many such visual connections, creating emotional interest and invitations for conversation. The story’s conclusion spins full circle, repeating opening sentences with new scenarios. From the microscopic to the cosmic, word and image illuminate the message without a whiff of didacticism.

Whimsy, intelligence, and a subtle narrative thread make this rise to the top of a growing list of self-love titles. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5344-2169-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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A hilarious autumnal comedy of errors.

THE LEAF THIEF

A confused squirrel overreacts to the falling autumn leaves.

Relaxing on a tree branch, Squirrel admires the red, gold, and orange leaves. Suddenly Squirrel screams, “One of my leaves is…MISSING!” Searching for the leaf, Squirrel tells Bird, “Someone stole my leaf!” Spying Mouse sailing in a leaf boat, Squirrel asks if Mouse stole the leaf. Mouse calmly replies in the negative. Bird reminds Squirrel it’s “perfectly normal to lose a leaf or two at this time of year.” Next morning Squirrel panics again, shrieking, “MORE LEAVES HAVE BEEN STOLEN!” Noticing Woodpecker arranging colorful leaves, Squirrel queries, “Are those my leaves?” Woodpecker tells Squirrel, “No.” Again, Bird assures Squirrel that no one’s taking the leaves and that the same thing happened last year, then encourages Squirrel to relax. Too wired to relax despite some yoga and a bath, the next day Squirrel cries “DISASTER” at the sight of bare branches. Frantic now, Squirrel becomes suspicious upon discovering Bird decorating with multicolored leaves. Is Bird the culprit? In response, Bird shows Squirrel the real Leaf Thief: the wind. Squirrel’s wildly dramatic, misguided, and hyperpossessive reaction to a routine seasonal event becomes a rib-tickling farce through clever use of varying type sizes and weights emphasizing his absurd verbal pronouncements as well as exaggerated, comic facial expressions and body language. Bold colors, arresting perspectives, and intense close-ups enhance Squirrel’s histrionics. Endnotes explain the science behind the phenomenon.

A hilarious autumnal comedy of errors. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-7282-3520-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Review Posted Online: June 2, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2021

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