A sweet story about coping with new siblings and appreciating friendship, featuring some inspired use of Australian animals.

ZANGADOO KANGAROO AND THE MYSTERIOUS BOOMERANG

A gentle adventure story, with a subtle moral about accepting new siblings without feeling displaced.

Zangadoo Kangaroo feels overshadowed by his little brother Joey, but when he borrows his father’s magical boomerang, he discovers a special talent and some new friends—a colorful group of Australian animals. The great strength of the book is its focus on these animals, with all of the top-billing creatures making appearances—kangaroos, koalas, wombats—but also lesser knowns like budgies and emus. The creative use of Australian slang is also a highlight, with words like “crikey,” “lolly” and “billabong” that will delight younger readers. The book has a glossary in the back that will define Aussie words, which may ignite a further interest in the flora and fauna of Australia. Small details, such as Zangadoo’s mum’s surfing trophies and his dad’s work as a bush pilot, sketch in a picture of an eccentric and loving family that would be fun to visit again. One stumbling point is that while the book suggests that the boomerang is magical, the nature of its power isn’t explored. There is a brief discussion of the boomerang’s history, but more use of it would have made this stronger and livelier for young readers. Also, moments of tension are undercut a little too quickly—Zangadoo’s friends travel to the Outback, seemingly walking there from their small town, and find him almost immediately after the boomerang has whisked him away on a magical journey, and a scene of Zangadoo and his friends being chased by dingoes is resolved after only a page. However, younger readers should enjoy the simplicity of the story, as well as the adorable illustrations.

A sweet story about coping with new siblings and appreciating friendship, featuring some inspired use of Australian animals.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-0984742820

Page Count: 94

Publisher: Zangadoo Entertainment

Review Posted Online: Sept. 21, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2012

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Renata’s wren encounter proves magical, one most children could only wish to experience outside of this lovely story.

CARPENTER'S HELPER

A home-renovation project is interrupted by a family of wrens, allowing a young girl an up-close glimpse of nature.

Renata and her father enjoy working on upgrading their bathroom, installing a clawfoot bathtub, and cutting a space for a new window. One warm night, after Papi leaves the window space open, two wrens begin making a nest in the bathroom. Rather than seeing it as an unfortunate delay of their project, Renata and Papi decide to let the avian carpenters continue their work. Renata witnesses the birth of four chicks as their rosy eggs split open “like coats that are suddenly too small.” Renata finds at a crucial moment that she can help the chicks learn to fly, even with the bittersweet knowledge that it will only hasten their exits from her life. Rosen uses lively language and well-chosen details to move the story of the baby birds forward. The text suggests the strong bond built by this Afro-Latinx father and daughter with their ongoing project without needing to point it out explicitly, a light touch in a picture book full of delicate, well-drawn moments and precise wording. Garoche’s drawings are impressively detailed, from the nest’s many small bits to the developing first feathers on the chicks and the wall smudges and exposed wiring of the renovation. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10-by-20-inch double-page spreads viewed at actual size.)

Renata’s wren encounter proves magical, one most children could only wish to experience outside of this lovely story. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: March 16, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-12320-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Schwartz & Wade/Random

Review Posted Online: Jan. 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2021

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Beloved Little Blue takes a bit of the mystery—and fear—out of Halloween costumes.

LITTLE BLUE TRUCK'S HALLOWEEN

A lift-the-flap book gives the littlest trick-or-treaters some practice identifying partygoers under their costumes.

Little Blue Truck and his buddy Toad are off to a party, and they invite readers (and a black cat) along for the ride: “ ‘Beep! Beep! Beep!’ / says Little Blue. / ‘It’s Halloween!’ / You come, too.” As they drive, they are surprised (and joined) by many of their friends in costume. “Who’s that in a tutu / striking a pose / up on the tiniest / tips of her toes? / Under the mask / who do you see?” Lifting the flap unmasks a friend: “ ‘Quack!’ says the duck. / ‘It’s me! It’s me!’ ” The sheep is disguised as a clown, the cow’s a queen, the pig’s a witch, the hen and her chick are pirates, and the horse is a dragon. Not to be left out, Little Blue has a costume, too. The flaps are large and sturdy, and enough of the animals’ characteristic features are visible under and around the costumes that little ones will be able to make successful guesses even on the first reading. Lovely curvy shapes and autumn colors fade to dusky blues as night falls, and children are sure to notice the traditional elements of a Halloween party: apple bobbing, lit jack-o’-lanterns, and punch and treats.

Beloved Little Blue takes a bit of the mystery—and fear—out of Halloween costumes. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: July 5, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-544-77253-3

Page Count: 16

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: July 20, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2016

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