THE TREE

A stately elm tree in New York City’s Madison Square Park is estimated to be 250 years old. Ruelle encourages readers to imagine the changes it’s seen as she matches historical events to the growth of the tree, from its beginning in a rural landscape through its presence in the 21st-century metropolis. Because the land was set aside in 1686 as public space, it was spared from developers’ blueprints for its entire history. But it has led a chequered life: It has been a potter’s field, a military training ground, a children’s refuge, the site of famed performance spaces and, somewhat surprisingly, the display venue of the arm of the Statue of Liberty. The author paces the narration perfectly, beginning leisurely and becoming more breathless as life in the city quickens, but she never forgets the tree’s steady presence. DeSaix’s softly drawn watercolors and rubbed oils beautifully capture the march of time and complement the text seamlessly. A vague timeline throughout the work is an unnecessary distraction from this charming piece of history. (historical notes) (Informational picture book. 6-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2008

ISBN: 978-0-8234-1904-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2008

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In spite of the book’s flaws, dragons are very appealing, and tales for young audiences that model the scientific method are...

DRAGONS AND MARSHMALLOWS

From the Zoey and Sassafras series , Vol. 1

Zoey discovers that she can see magical creatures that might need her help.

That’s a good thing because her mother has been caring for the various beasts since childhood, but now she’s leaving on a business trip so the work will fall to Zoey. Most people (like Zoey’s father) can’t see the magical creatures, so Zoey, who appears in illustrations to be black, will have to experiment with their care by problem-solving using the scientific method to determine appropriate treatment and feeding. When a tiny, sick dragon shows up on her doorstep, she runs an experiment and determines that marshmallows appear to be the proper food. Unfortunately, she hadn’t done enough research beforehand to understand that although dragons might like marshmallows, they might not be the best food for a sick, fire-breathing baby. Although the incorporation of important STEM behaviors is a plus, the exposition is mildly clunky, with little character development and stilted dialogue. Many pages are dense with large-print text, related in Zoey’s not especially childlike voice. However, the inclusion in each chapter of a couple of attractive black-and-white illustrations of round-faced people and Zoey’s mischievous cat helps break up the narrative.

In spite of the book’s flaws, dragons are very appealing, and tales for young audiences that model the scientific method are nice to see. (Fantasy. 6-9)

Pub Date: March 14, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-943147-08-3

Page Count: 96

Publisher: The Innovation Press

Review Posted Online: Dec. 19, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

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THE SKIN YOU LIVE IN

An earnest but energetic tribute to diversity, done up with postmodern arrays of smiling, stylized, lozenge-headed children paired to a rollicking celebration of: “Your coffee and cream skin, / your warm cocoa dream skin . . . / Your chocolate chip, double dip sundae supreme skin! / Your marshmallow treat skin, / your spun sugar sweet skin . . . / your cherry topped, candy dropped, frosting complete skin.” Tyler also urges readers to think about the commonality of “The skin that you laugh in; / the skin that you cry in; / the skin that you look to / the sky and ask, ‘Why?’ in.” Though he changes his tone and plies a verbal mallet to drive his point home in the last several verses, the earlier wordplay more than compensates—while glimpses of one child in a wheelchair, and another held by a biracial couple, expand the general theme to encompass more than skin color alone. A sonically playful, if just a bit overlong, alternative to Sheila Hamanaka’s All the Colors of the Earth (1994). (Picture book. 6-9)

Pub Date: April 1, 2005

ISBN: 0-9759580-0-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Chicago Children’s Museum/IPG

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2005

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