“It’s time to head back home,” the narrator concludes. “You’ve touched the Earth in so many ways.” Who knew it would be so...

TOUCH THE EARTH

From the Julian Lennon White Feather Flier Adventure series , Vol. 1

A pro bono Twinkie of a book invites readers to fly off in a magic plane to bring clean water to our planet’s oceans, deserts, and brown children.

Following a confusingly phrased suggestion beneath a soft-focus world map to “touch the Earth. Now touch where you live,” a shake of the volume transforms it into a plane with eyes and feathered wings that flies with the press of a flat, gray “button” painted onto the page. Pressing like buttons along the journey releases a gush of fresh water from the ground—and later, illogically, provides a filtration device that changes water “from yucky to clean”—for thirsty groups of smiling, brown-skinned people. At other stops, a tap on the button will “help irrigate the desert,” and touching floating bottles and other debris in the ocean supposedly makes it all disappear so the fish can return. The 20 children Coh places on a globe toward the end are varied of skin tone, but three of the four young saviors she plants in the flier’s cockpit as audience stand-ins are white. The closing poem isn’t so openly parochial, though it seldom rises above vague feel-good sentiments: “Love the Earth, the moon and sun. / All the children can be one.”

“It’s time to head back home,” the narrator concludes. “You’ve touched the Earth in so many ways.” Who knew it would be so easy to clean the place up and give everyone a drink? (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: April 11, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-5107-2083-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Sky Pony Press

Review Posted Online: Feb. 4, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2017

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Life’s questions remain unanswered in this attractive but frustratingly bland book.

THE BOY AND THE SEA

A boy’s life is steered by and reflected in his relationship with the sea.

In a series of swirling, impressionistic, watercolor seascapes, a dark-haired, white-skinned boy is pictured at different life stages: as a young child; as a grown man with a family; and as an old man. At each stage, he receives a meaningful message from the sea. His moods are reflected in the moods of the sea, sometimes “dark and dangerous,” sometimes “tranquil and tender.” As the boy moves through the life stages, both he and the sea feel “the pull of something more.” He looks to the sea for answers to life’s questions, and sometimes they are answered—but just with a word: dream, love, be. Even when he is grown, he still does not know the answers to his questions. In its coverage of an entire life’s span, the book seems to be attempting to provide a universal message of guidance for growing up, but it’s too general and lacking in any kind of strong connection to be of value or of interest to a developing child. Small vignettes hint at adolescent conflicts, but so obliquely and superficially as to be valueless and at times obscure—particularly given that the audience for this book has not yet reached adolescence. That said, Bates’ paintings are lovely, capturing foamy, cresting waves in varying degrees of vigor; this seascape is never still. (This book was reviewed digitally with 8.5-by-22-inch double-page spreads viewed at 50% of actual size.)

Life’s questions remain unanswered in this attractive but frustratingly bland book. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: May 11, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-4197-4940-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: March 31, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2021

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Readers (and listeners) will think that this book is the bee’s knees.

THE HONEYBEE

Children will be buzzing to learn more about honeybees after reading this story.

Hall takes her readers on a sunny romp through a springtime pasture abuzz with friendly honeybees in this bright and cheerful picture book. Hall’s rhyme scheme is inviting and mirrors the staccato sounds of a bee buzzing. At times, however, meaning seems to take a back seat to the rhyme. The bees are suggested to “tap” while flying, a noise that adult readers might have trouble explaining to curious listeners. Later, the “hill” the bees return to may elicit further questions, as this point is not addressed textually or visually. Minor quibbles aside, the vocabulary is on-point as the bees demonstrate the various stages of nectar collection and honey creation. Arsenault’s illustrations, a combination of ink, gouache, graphite, and colored pencil, are energetic and cheerful. Extra points should be awarded for properly illustrating a natural honeybee hive (as opposed to the often depicted wasp nest). The expressive bees are also well-done. Their faces are welcoming, but their sharp noses hint at the stingers that may be lurking behind them. Hall’s ending note to readers will be appreciated by adults but will require their interpretation to be accessible to children. A sensible choice for read-alouds and STEAM programs.

Readers (and listeners) will think that this book is the bee’s knees. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: May 8, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4814-6997-5

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: March 18, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2018

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