Appealing arboreal fantasy.

BEATRICE WAS A TREE

As Beatrice stalls her bedtime, readers learn rudimentary facts about trees.

In the opening double-page spread, the titular girl, clad in overalls, hangs upside down from a tree branch. Purplish hair hangs beneath her pale, oversized face; her blue-gray irises point across the page’s gutter. Beatrice is surrounded by a nighttime scene: stars in the dark blue sky, a yellow crescent moon hanging over a lit-from-within house in the recto’s background. In white capital letters, a sound balloon from the house exhorts, “Beatrice, time for bed!” After the page turn, Beatrice is on the ground, her disgruntled facial expression and body language humorously familiar to all. She mutters that if she were a tree, she could “stay outside all night long.” In the next double-page spread, her expression changes to wonder as she imagines herself sprouting twigs and leaves. Soon, she is fantasizing about her life as a tree, first into the next day and then through the seasons. Her face cleverly fades into a tree’s overstory as the pages of colorful artwork—punctuated with short bursts of text and plenty of endearing animals—move toward the inevitable conclusion to her fantasy. After Beatrice’s second warning, her expression is again fun to behold, and a hint of subversion in the final, wordless page adds satisfaction. Additional pages contribute a few more botanical facts, but the story itself naturally segues into naptime or bedtime. Bonus: endpapers with labeled leaves. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10.5-by-18-inch double-page spreads viewed at actual size.)

Appealing arboreal fantasy. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: May 11, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-06-274126-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Review Posted Online: March 31, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2021

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Adults looking for an easy entry into this subject will not be disappointed.

CLIMATE CHANGE FOR BABIES

From the Baby University series

This book presents a simplified explanation of the role the atmosphere plays in controlling climate.

The authors present a planet as a ball and its atmosphere as a blanket that envelops the ball. If the blanket is thick, the planet will be hot, as is the case for Venus. If the blanket is thin, the planet is cold, as with Mars. Planet Earth has a blanket that traps “just the right amount of heat.” The authors explain trees, animals, and oceans are part of what makes Earth’s atmosphere “just right.” “But…Uh-oh! People on Earth are changing the blanket!” The book goes on to explain how some human activities are sending “greenhouse gases” into the atmosphere, thus “making the blanket heavier and thicker” and “making Earth feel unwell.” In the case of a planet feeling unwell, what would the symptoms be? Sea-level rises that lead to erosion, flooding, and island loss, along with extreme weather events, such as hurricanes, blizzards, and wildfires. Ending on a constructive note, the authors name a few of the remedies to “help our Earth before it’s too late!” By using the blanket analogy, alongside simple and clear illustrations, this otherwise complex topic becomes very accessible to young children, though caregivers will need to help with the specialized vocabulary.

Adults looking for an easy entry into this subject will not be disappointed. (Board book. 3-4)

Pub Date: Aug. 18, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4926-8082-6

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Sourcebooks eXplore

Review Posted Online: Sept. 1, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2020

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A cool concept a tad undermined by geographical overreach.

LITTLE DANDELION SEEDS THE WORLD

Dandelion seeds travel the world.

The story opens on an urban scene (possibly Cape Town) of a Black child whimsically blowing a dandelion, one fluffy seed floating “far, far away” to an undisclosed African plain. The book continues to describe the manner in which the seeds travel with the repeated refrain “swish, swirl, one hundred seeds fly.” The seeds are carried far and wide: one on the ear of a cheetah, another hitchhiking on a pant leg across the sea, a third in a bird’s droppings. The Howdeshells’ art is vibrant and engaging, taking care to include a diverse array of human racial presentations and details that establish each setting, the textured images focusing on indigenous fauna as the seeds fly. Of particular note is the lovely cover depicting a Black girl with natural hair. The seeds travel to Asia, Australia, North America, South America, and Europe. The entire globe is covered, including Antarctica, stretching a bit to match the conceit. An author’s note claims that “even chilly Antarctica has dandelions on the shoreline of South Georgia Island” as evidence for the plant’s reach to all seven continents. Whether South Georgia Island is part of Antarctica is arguable; it’s too bad the book makes this bland assertion. (This book was reviewed digitally with 11-by-18-inch double-page spreads viewed at 20.8% of actual size.)

A cool concept a tad undermined by geographical overreach. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: March 15, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5341-1053-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Sleeping Bear Press

Review Posted Online: Dec. 25, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2021

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