A simple story with more than one message.

THE DANDELION SEED'S BIG DREAM

Floating off under its parachute, a dandelion seed makes a difficult journey and lands in an unpromising place, but in the end, it fulfills its dream of making flowers of its own.

Anthony and Arbo turn the journey of a familiar weed seed into a parable of perseverance. Detailed pencil-and-paint illustrations show the tiny seed floating off from the lush green countryside and soaring over what appears to be a college town. (Just to underscore the mechanism, hot air balloons are depicted making a similar journey.) But the town buildings and streets, though nearly empty of humans and cars, are not hospitable. There’s a sticky spider web, a woman with a broom and a cavernous parking garage. The seed ends up in a discarded yellow Styrofoam container on a trash-filled lot. Winter comes and goes. In spring, an ethnically diverse cleanup crew transforms the area into a community garden; the seed flourishes nearby. An afterword introduces this weed/flower, describing its parts, its history in North America and its potential for classroom studies of plant life cycles. Building on the pair’s The Dandelion Seed (1997), this glorifies the seed’s patience and persistence, and it makes clear that this well-known plant can be much more than a weed.

A simple story with more than one message. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-58469-496-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Dawn Publications

Review Posted Online: July 29, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2014

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A quiet, thought-provoking story of environmental change and the power humans have to slow it.

THE OLD BOAT

A multigenerational tale of a boat’s life with a Black family, written by two brothers who loved similar boats.

In the opening spread, a smiling, brown-skinned adult dangles a line from the back of a green-and-white boat while a boy peers eagerly over the side at the sea life. The text never describes years passing, but each page turn reveals the boy’s aging, more urban development on the shore, increasing water pollution, marine-life changes (sea jellies abound on one page), and shifting water levels. Eventually, the boy, now a teenager, steers the boat, and as an adult, he fishes alone but must go farther and farther out to sea to make his catch. One day, the man loses his way, capsizes in a storm, and washes up on a small bay island, with the overturned, sunken boat just offshore. Now a “new sailor” cleans up the land and water with others’ help. The physical similarities between the shipwrecked sailor and the “new sailor” suggest that this is not a new person but one whose near-death experience has led to an epiphany that changes his relationship to water. As the decaying boat becomes a new marine habitat, the sailor teaches the next generation (a child with hair in two Afro puffs) to fish. Focusing primarily on the sea, the book’s earth-toned illustrations, created with hundreds of stamps, carry the compelling plot.

A quiet, thought-provoking story of environmental change and the power humans have to slow it. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-324-00517-9

Page Count: 56

Publisher: Norton Young Readers

Review Posted Online: Dec. 25, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2021

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Nice enough, but its twinkle is on the faint side.

TWINKLE TWINKLE LITTLE KID

A boy gets an unusual payoff after wishing on a star.

Sitting outside one night, Clyde notices a lone star in the sky. He recites the “Star light, star bright” incantation and makes a wish. Disappointed when it doesn’t come true, he returns home. But later, while he’s asleep, the star he’d wished on sneaks into his bedroom and makes a wish on him! Startled awake, Clyde wonders how to grant Star’s wish. He shares some ideas (and actual objects) with her: a game of checkers, tent camping, tossing a Frisbee, and walkie-talkies. Star likes them, but they’re not her wishes; Clyde confides there’s no one to enjoy them with—and wonders if perhaps Star had wished for a friend. No one will be surprised at what Clyde next confesses to Star. The pair winds up playing together and becoming besties. This is a sweet but thin and predictable story about making friends. Still, readers will appreciate meeting feisty, celestial Star. The author reaches for humor using colloquialisms (“freaked out”), and kids will like the comfortable familiarity that develops between the cheery protagonists. The colored-pencil illustrations are rendered in a limited palette of mostly dark blues and purples, appropriate to the nighttime setting. Star is a luminous, pale yellow with a white topknot and has a star-dappled aura around her. Purple-pj’d Clyde wears bunny slippers and presents White. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Nice enough, but its twinkle is on the faint side. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 3, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-399-17132-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2021

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