A sturdy effort from a small press focused on food literacy.

ZORA'S ZUCCHINI

After planting a dozen free zucchini plants, Zora finds ways to share and trade her bumper crop with others in her community.

“That’s going to be a lot of zucchini,” her father opines as Zora digs, plants, and waters. “We’ll eat it!” she assures him—and as the harvest rolls in, they do. In bread and soup; for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. By August, even perpetually rosy Zora realizes that this is too much food for her family. She swaps zucchini for tomatoes with Mrs. Thompson next door, then loads up the basket of her bike, giving zucchini away to neighbors. Still—there’s more. Enlisting the help of her sister and brother, Zora arranges a Saturday Garden Swap. After a slow start, neighbors come through, swapping everything from apricots to peppers. “Zora traded and traded until all her zucchini was gone.” While adult readers might scoff at the notion that Zora would be the only gardener in the neighborhood growing rampant zucchini plants, kids should warm to Zora’s predicament and resourceful problem-solving. Raff’s digitally colored watercolors have a cartoonlike, naïve quality. Hands have four fingers, and facial features are depicted as curved lines and dots. The spreads provide plenty of detail for children to notice—such as a cat’s displeasure at getting splashed by the watering can.

A sturdy effort from a small press focused on food literacy. (ideas for dealing with extra garden produce) (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 17, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-9836615-7-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Readers to Eaters

Review Posted Online: June 29, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2015

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A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift.

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BECAUSE I HAD A TEACHER

A paean to teachers and their surrogates everywhere.

This gentle ode to a teacher’s skill at inspiring, encouraging, and being a role model is spoken, presumably, from a child’s viewpoint. However, the voice could equally be that of an adult, because who can’t look back upon teachers or other early mentors who gave of themselves and offered their pupils so much? Indeed, some of the self-aware, self-assured expressions herein seem perhaps more realistic as uttered from one who’s already grown. Alternatively, readers won’t fail to note that this small book, illustrated with gentle soy-ink drawings and featuring an adult-child bear duo engaged in various sedentary and lively pursuits, could just as easily be about human parent- (or grandparent-) child pairs: some of the softly colored illustrations depict scenarios that are more likely to occur within a home and/or other family-oriented setting. Makes sense: aren’t parents and other close family members children’s first teachers? This duality suggests that the book might be best shared one-on-one between a nostalgic adult and a child who’s developed some self-confidence, having learned a thing or two from a parent, grandparent, older relative, or classroom instructor.

A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-943200-08-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Compendium

Review Posted Online: Dec. 14, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

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Visually accomplished but marred by stereotypical cultural depictions.

HOME

Ellis, known for her illustrations for Colin Meloy’s Wildwood series, here riffs on the concept of “home.”

Shifting among homes mundane and speculative, contemporary and not, Ellis begins and ends with views of her own home and a peek into her studio. She highlights palaces and mansions, but she also takes readers to animal homes and a certain famously folkloric shoe (whose iconic Old Woman manages a passel of multiethnic kids absorbed in daring games). One spread showcases “some folks” who “live on the road”; a band unloads its tour bus in front of a theater marquee. Ellis’ compelling ink and gouache paintings, in a palette of blue-grays, sepia and brick red, depict scenes ranging from mythical, underwater Atlantis to a distant moonscape. Another spread, depicting a garden and large building under connected, transparent domes, invites readers to wonder: “Who in the world lives here? / And why?” (Earth is seen as a distant blue marble.) Some of Ellis’ chosen depictions, oddly juxtaposed and stripped of any historical or cultural context due to the stylized design and spare text, become stereotypical. “Some homes are boats. / Some homes are wigwams.” A sailing ship’s crew seems poised to land near a trio of men clad in breechcloths—otherwise unidentified and unremarked upon.

Visually accomplished but marred by stereotypical cultural depictions. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 24, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-7636-6529-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Nov. 18, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2014

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