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Lovely—but it requires patience, just like its protagonist

Grandmother Thorn has spent years perfecting her beloved garden, but a new plant, a gift from a friend, threatens its harmony.

Grandmother Thorn lives alone in Shizuka Village, apparently in Japan. Every day she meticulously cares for her garden and its pebbled paths, shunning visitors and shooing birds away from her trees. Neighbors fear her, but she always shows kindness to her old friend, Ojiisan, despite the fact that his crooked foot disrupts her precious paths. When a merchant brings an unusual type of berry to market, Ojiisan pays the merchant to take some to Grandmother Thorn. The merchant unwisely picks one perfect flower. Enraged, Grandmother Thorn chases him away and he drops the berries—one of which soon sprouts into a renegade plant. Her intense anger at this makes her so sick she must stay at the home of her niece until the following spring. When Ojiisan goes to walk her home, he gives her a box of berries. They are delicious—the fruit of the persistent weed. Grandmother Thorn understands that she has finally found something as stubborn as herself. Although Howes’ protagonist learns a good lesson, she is not particularly likable to that point, and the stern faces of Hahn’s characters could be disconcerting to the book’s young audience. Her pattern-filled, hand-collage illustrations incorporate fabric, wood, and paint, their thick outlines and stable compositions imparting a sense of peace to Grandmother Thorn’s garden.

Lovely—but it requires patience, just like its protagonist . (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 29, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-9913866-9-7

Page Count: 44

Publisher: Ripple Grove

Review Posted Online: May 23, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2017

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Though told by two outsiders to the culture, this timely and well-crafted story will educate readers on the preciousness of...

An international story tackles a serious global issue with Reynolds’ characteristic visual whimsy.

Gie Gie—aka Princess Gie Gie—lives with her parents in Burkina Faso. In her kingdom under “the African sky, so wild and so close,” she can tame wild dogs with her song and make grass sway, but despite grand attempts, she can neither bring the water closer to home nor make it clean. French words such as “maintenant!” (now!) and “maman” (mother) and local color like the karite tree and shea nuts place the story in a French-speaking African country. Every morning, Gie Gie and her mother perch rings of cloth and large clay pots on their heads and walk miles to the nearest well to fetch murky, brown water. The story is inspired by model Georgie Badiel, who founded the Georgie Badiel Foundation to make clean water accessible to West Africans. The details in Reynolds’ expressive illustrations highlight the beauty of the West African landscape and of Princess Gie Gie, with her cornrowed and beaded hair, but will also help readers understand that everyone needs clean water—from the children of Burkina Faso to the children of Flint, Michigan.

Though told by two outsiders to the culture, this timely and well-crafted story will educate readers on the preciousness of potable water. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 13, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-399-17258-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 17, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2016

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A retro-futuristic romp, literally and figuratively screwy.

Robo-parents Diode and Lugnut present daughter Cathode with a new little brother—who requires, unfortunately, some assembly.

Arriving in pieces from some mechanistic version of Ikea, little Flange turns out to be a cute but complicated tyke who immediately falls apart…and then rockets uncontrollably about the room after an overconfident uncle tinkers with his basic design. As a squad of helpline techies and bevies of neighbors bearing sludge cake and like treats roll in, the cluttered and increasingly crowded scene deteriorates into madcap chaos—until at last Cath, with help from Roomba-like robodog Sprocket, stages an intervention by whisking the hapless new arrival off to a backyard workshop for a proper assembly and software update. “You’re such a good big sister!” warbles her frazzled mom. Wiesner’s robots display his characteristic clean lines and even hues but endearingly look like vaguely anthropomorphic piles of random jet-engine parts and old vacuum cleaners loosely connected by joints of armored cable. They roll hither and thither through neatly squared-off panels and pages in infectiously comical dismay. Even the end’s domestic tranquility lasts only until Cathode spots the little box buried in the bigger one’s packing material: “TWINS!” (This book was reviewed digitally with 9-by-22-inch double-page spreads viewed at 52% of actual size.)

A retro-futuristic romp, literally and figuratively screwy. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-544-98731-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Clarion Books

Review Posted Online: June 2, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2020

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