NIGHT JOB

An endearing story conveying a satisfying sense of a job well done.

A little boy accompanies his single-parent father to his evening job as the custodian at a large middle school in this serene, evocative story.

The unnamed boy narrates the story in present tense as the pair ride together on the dad’s motorcycle over a bridge and past a bay to the empty school. At first the boy shoots baskets as his dad mops the floor of the gym, but later the child works alongside his father as they listen to a baseball game on the radio. They eat sandwiches in a courtyard together, and then the boy reads and naps on a couch in the library while his father continues cleaning. By daybreak they are back home, falling asleep snuggled up in a cozy recliner, both dreaming of riding the motorcycle together over the water of the bay. This little boy is only 5 or 6, but he’s a real help to his dad in packing up their lunch, assisting with his duties, and cleaning out their lunchbox when they return home. Hesse’s poetic, calm text is matter-of-fact in conveying the love between parent and child and the bonding occurring through their shared work. Karas’ mixed-media illustrations, employing a soft focus and a muted, nighttime palette, help to relay this bond as well as the excitement of riding on the back of a motorcycle at night. Father and son both present white, and both wear helmets.

An endearing story conveying a satisfying sense of a job well done. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 11, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-7636-6238-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2018

THERE'S A ROCK CONCERT IN MY BEDROOM

Nice enough but not worth repeat reads.

Emma deals with jitters before playing the guitar in the school talent show.

Pop musician Kevin Jonas and his wife, Danielle, put performance at the center of their picture-book debut. When Emma is intimidated by her very talented friends, the encouragement of her younger sister, Bella, and the support of her family help her to shine her own light. The story is straightforward and the moral familiar: Draw strength from your family and within to overcome your fears. Employing the performance-anxiety trope that’s been written many times over, the book plods along predictably—there’s nothing really new or surprising here. Dawson’s full-color digital illustrations center a White-presenting family along with Emma’s three friends of color: Jamila has tanned skin and wears a hijab; Wendy has dark brown skin and Afro puffs; and Luis has medium brown skin. Emma’s expressive eyes and face are the real draw of the artwork—from worry to embarrassment to joy, it’s clear what she’s feeling. A standout double-page spread depicts Emma’s talent show performance, with a rainbow swirl of music erupting from an amp and Emma rocking a glam outfit and electric guitar. Overall, the book reads pretty plainly, buoyed largely by the artwork. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Nice enough but not worth repeat reads. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: March 29, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-35207-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Razorbill/Penguin

Review Posted Online: Feb. 8, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2022

MAMA BUILT A LITTLE NEST

A good bet for the youngest bird-watchers.

Echoing the meter of “Mary Had a Little Lamb,” Ward uses catchy original rhymes to describe the variety of nests birds create.

Each sweet stanza is complemented by a factual, engaging description of the nesting habits of each bird. Some of the notes are intriguing, such as the fact that the hummingbird uses flexible spider web to construct its cup-shaped nest so the nest will stretch as the chicks grow. An especially endearing nesting behavior is that of the emperor penguin, who, with unbelievable patience, incubates the egg between his tummy and his feet for up to 60 days. The author clearly feels a mission to impart her extensive knowledge of birds and bird behavior to the very young, and she’s found an appealing and attractive way to accomplish this. The simple rhymes on the left page of each spread, written from the young bird’s perspective, will appeal to younger children, and the notes on the right-hand page of each spread provide more complex factual information that will help parents answer further questions and satisfy the curiosity of older children. Jenkins’ accomplished collage illustrations of common bird species—woodpecker, hummingbird, cowbird, emperor penguin, eagle, owl, wren—as well as exotics, such as flamingoes and hornbills, are characteristically naturalistic and accurate in detail.

A good bet for the youngest bird-watchers.   (author’s note, further resources) (Informational picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 18, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4424-2116-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Beach Lane/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Jan. 3, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2014

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