Wonderfully animated illustrations and a dramatic story, even if it’s unfair to mountain lions.

BOOMER AND FRIENDS!

In this children’s picture book, a bison can’t seem to connect with others of his kind, but he’s protective of the many friends he has.

On the prairie lives a bison known as Boomer, because when he runs, his hooves go “BOOM-BOOMER-BOOM!” He sometimes seems to see other bison in the distance, but when he tries to run after them, he can never catch up. Luckily, though, Boomer counts numerous other creatures among his friends, including a jackrabbit named Hop-Hopper-Hop; a butterfly, Flit-Flitter-Flit; and Tweet-Tweeter-Tweet, a meadowlark. They’re all scared of Roar-Roarer-Roar, a mountain lion, and for good reason: he has sharp claws and teeth, as well as a sharp intellect. One day, when Boomer leaves his friends and climbs a hill to search for other bison, Roarer sees his chance and attacks. When Boomer hears the meadlowlark’s frightened twittering, he runs to defend them, booming even “louder than Roarer could roar” and frightening him away. Afterward, the friends realize that they’re also a family. Viola (Nightmares Unhinged, 2015, etc.) tells an emotional story in which danger and loneliness resolve into good feelings of unity and mutual care. The language has a pleasing drama and rhythm: “When Boomer tiptoed, his name sounded soft.  Boom… Boomer… Boom. When Boomer ran, his name thundered across the valley. BOOMBOOMERBOOM!” Parents who desire accurate depictions of nature, though, may dislike how a predator, a necessary part of the food chain, is villainized. This is certainly traditional in children’s literature, but some other books on prairie animals are more realistic. Illustrators Bell and Lovett contribute greatly to the storytelling with their full-color, varied, and highly expressive—almost cinematic—pictures, which show the prairie’s beauty. The animals are well-rendered, dynamic, and realistic; their faces show a gamut of emotions from sweetness to cunning.

Wonderfully animated illustrations and a dramatic story, even if it’s unfair to mountain lions.

Pub Date: June 27, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-9988265-0-9

Page Count: -

Publisher: Jam Publishers

Review Posted Online: May 31, 2017

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ABIYOYO RETURNS

The seemingly ageless Seeger brings back his renowned giant for another go in a tuneful tale that, like the art, is a bit sketchy, but chockful of worthy messages. Faced with yearly floods and droughts since they’ve cut down all their trees, the townsfolk decide to build a dam—but the project is stymied by a boulder that is too huge to move. Call on Abiyoyo, suggests the granddaughter of the man with the magic wand, then just “Zoop Zoop” him away again. But the rock that Abiyoyo obligingly flings aside smashes the wand. How to avoid Abiyoyo’s destruction now? Sing the monster to sleep, then make it a peaceful, tree-planting member of the community, of course. Seeger sums it up in a postscript: “every community must learn to manage its giants.” Hays, who illustrated the original (1986), creates colorful, if unfinished-looking, scenes featuring a notably multicultural human cast and a towering Cubist fantasy of a giant. The song, based on a Xhosa lullaby, still has that hard-to-resist sing-along potential, and the themes of waging peace, collective action, and the benefits of sound ecological practices are presented in ways that children will both appreciate and enjoy. (Picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-689-83271-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2001

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A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift.

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BECAUSE I HAD A TEACHER

A paean to teachers and their surrogates everywhere.

This gentle ode to a teacher’s skill at inspiring, encouraging, and being a role model is spoken, presumably, from a child’s viewpoint. However, the voice could equally be that of an adult, because who can’t look back upon teachers or other early mentors who gave of themselves and offered their pupils so much? Indeed, some of the self-aware, self-assured expressions herein seem perhaps more realistic as uttered from one who’s already grown. Alternatively, readers won’t fail to note that this small book, illustrated with gentle soy-ink drawings and featuring an adult-child bear duo engaged in various sedentary and lively pursuits, could just as easily be about human parent- (or grandparent-) child pairs: some of the softly colored illustrations depict scenarios that are more likely to occur within a home and/or other family-oriented setting. Makes sense: aren’t parents and other close family members children’s first teachers? This duality suggests that the book might be best shared one-on-one between a nostalgic adult and a child who’s developed some self-confidence, having learned a thing or two from a parent, grandparent, older relative, or classroom instructor.

A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-943200-08-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Compendium

Review Posted Online: Dec. 14, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

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