What first seems an eerie, baby-goth vibe is held steady by the stable, close-knit family and lack of crisis in this...


A quietly magnificent paean to the wonder of nighttime and the solidity of a family unit.

Unlike picture books that use evening settings to address fears or coax kids into bed, this creative debut makes night-living a valid choice. The city-dwelling Insomniacs aren’t originally “a night family. / But when Mrs. Insomniac found a new job, Mother, Father, and little Mika traveled twelve time zones to their new home,” northern and remote. Hot baths and mugs of milk don’t adjust their internal clocks. Perky all night and dozing all day, they seek counsel from their new neighbors: lynx, bears and bats. “And then the Insomniacs noticed: the darkness was full of life.” Why force it? They decide to “give night a try.” Mika keeps pets—a bandicoot and a fennec fox, among others—and attends night school online; Mother continues her (undefined) science career by studying night stars; Father develops photos in his darkroom. The family catches the bakery opening at dawn and then “bundle[s] into bed.” Prussian blue dominates the offbeat pencil-and-charcoal illustrations, with whites and yellows glowing as moon, snow and lamplight. Figures are thin-armed and deliberate. Composition varies entrancingly, including full spreads, sequential boxes and dotted lines pointing to enlarged details.

What first seems an eerie, baby-goth vibe is held steady by the stable, close-knit family and lack of crisis in this atmospheric, calmly splendid piece. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 16, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-399-25665-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: June 27, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2012

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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. 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2014

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A cozy story that will transport readers to faraway places.


All gifts are perfect when they come from the heart.

Rabbit goes on a “journey through a green and grand forest” in order to get a gift for his nana even though it is “not even a major hare holiday.” He travels very far in search of the perfect gift and encounters many new friends whom he asks for help. Each of them proffers Rabbit something they can easily make or acquire: The moon offers a “crescent smile,” a whale proposes a glass of water, and so on. Ultimately, Rabbit finds the perfect gift for Nana all on his own, and his nana absolutely adores it. Although the story is a bit predictable, it is amusing—readers will laugh at the anthropomorphic volcano’s explosion and Rabbit’s exhaustion from his journey, among other chucklesome scenes. Smith’s gesso, oil, and cold wax illustrations are exquisite and almost ethereal. The friendly, many-eyed creature referred to as a “stickler” is at once haunting and intriguing. The moon is Tim Burton–esque and seems to glow and pop off the page. Pleased with his choice of gift, Rabbit has the moon’s smile on his face. The predominance of full-bleed double-page spreads accentuates Rabbit’s long quest. The different font sizes, styles, and colors will aid emerging readers with diction when reading aloud but might prove difficult for those with dyslexia. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A cozy story that will transport readers to faraway places. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: April 12, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-43033-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Random House Studio

Review Posted Online: Jan. 25, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2022

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