JUST DUCKY

Ducky searches high and low for a friend who can play, but discovers that the best friend he can have is literally right under his nose. A beautiful day is made for sharing, and Ducky tries to get Bee to play with him—“but Bee is too busy bizz-buzzing away.” Mouse is too busy finding seeds and Frog is too busy hopping about the pond. Dejected, Ducky slides into the water and floats along, until he spots another Duck floating right in front of him. Not realizing that it’s just his reflection, Ducky encourages the “other duck” to copy his many tricks. From floating on their backs, to blowing bubbles, Ducky’s new friend seems to have no trouble keeping up. At the end of the day, Ducky leaves his pal to return to his mother. He hints that maybe he does know the truth about his playmate when he states, “Mama being just Ducky was just ducky fun.” Simple illustrations rendered in a combination of markers, colored pencils, oil pastels, and acrylic paint feature this bright yellow duckling playing in his impossibly blue pond. The rhythmic verse and repetitive phrases make this a perfect read-aloud selection for encouraging young children to use their imagination and creativity. A charmer. (Picture book. 2-5)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2002

ISBN: 0-8027-8824-6

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Walker

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2002

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An adventurous treat of a bedtime story.

BEDTIME FOR SWEET CREATURES

A patient mother with a healthy sense of whimsy helps prepare her headstrong toddler for bed.

The story opens with a toddler, fists raised into the air, proclaiming, “No! No! No!” Thank goodness this not-at-the-moment-sweet creature’s mother is patient and creative as she corrals her child into a bedtime routine that may feel familiar to many readers. The words and behaviors of the child evading bed are translated into animal sounds and behaviors: wide-eyed and asking “Who? Who?” like an owl; shaking hair and roaring like a lion; hanging on for a hug like a koala. And, of course, the requisite leaving bed for a last trip to the bathroom and drink, like a human child. Zunon’s art takes this book to the next level: Her portrayals of the animals mentioned in the text are colorful and full of intriguing patterns and shapes. Additionally, the expressions on the faces of the mother, child, and animals speak volumes, portraying the emotions of each. Arguably, the sweetest part of the story comes at the end, when the child asks to sleep with Mommy and Dad. Though the mother sighs, the child climbs in, along with “owl, bear, snake, kitty, fawn, squirrel, koala, tiger, wolf.” (Readers attuned to details will notice the father’s look of delight at the parade of animals.) All characters are Black.

An adventurous treat of a bedtime story. (Picture book. 2-5)

Pub Date: Jan. 14, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4926-3832-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Review Posted Online: Sept. 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2019

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The rare immigrant chronicle that is as long on hope as it is on heartbreak.

INFINITE COUNTRY

A 15-year-old girl in Colombia, doing time in a remote detention center, orchestrates a jail break and tries to get home.

"People say drugs and alcohol are the greatest and most persuasive narcotics—the elements most likely to ruin a life. They're wrong. It's love." As the U.S. recovers from the repeal of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, from the misery of separations on the border, from both the idea and the reality of a wall around the United States, Engel's vital story of a divided Colombian family is a book we need to read. Weaving Andean myth and natural symbolism into her narrative—condors signify mating for life, jaguars revenge; the embattled Colombians are "a singed species of birds without feathers who can still fly"; children born in one country and raised in another are "repotted flowers, creatures forced to live in the wrong habitat"—she follows Talia, the youngest child, on a complex journey. Having committed a violent crime not long before she was scheduled to leave her father in Bogotá to join her mother and siblings in New Jersey, she winds up in a horrible Catholic juvie from which she must escape in order to make her plane. Hence the book's wonderful first sentence: "It was her idea to tie up the nun." Talia's cross-country journey is interwoven with the story of her parents' early romance, their migration to the United States, her father's deportation, her grandmother's death, the struggle to reunite. In the latter third of the book, surprising narrative shifts are made to include the voices of Talia's siblings, raised in the U.S. This provides interesting new perspectives, but it is a little awkward to break the fourth wall so late in the book. Attention, TV and movie people: This story is made for the screen.

The rare immigrant chronicle that is as long on hope as it is on heartbreak.

Pub Date: March 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-982159-46-7

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Avid Reader Press

Review Posted Online: Dec. 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2021

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LITTLE QUACK

The odyssey of ducklings venturing forth from their comfortable nests into the big world resonates with children and has been a well-traveled subject of many works geared toward young readers. Thompson’s (Mouse’s First Valentine, 2002, etc.) latest effort will certainly appeal to youngsters despite its lack of originality. Mama Duck is coaxing her five hesitant ducklings (Widdle, Waddle, Piddle, Puddle, and Little Quack) into the water one at a time. A “quack-u-lator” at the bottom of the pages adds an interesting mathematical element, helping children count along as ducklings jump into the pond. Mama encourages each nervous duckling to “paddle on the water with me . . . you can do it . . . I know you can.” Overcoming their initial fright, the first four ducklings “splish, splash, sploosh, and splosh” happily into the water. The simple tale’s climax occurs when Little Quack wavers at the water’s edge. “Could he do it? Did he dare?” Not to spoil the ending, but suffice it to say all five ducklings swim off “proud as can be.” In his debut effort, Anderson’s bright and colorful illustrations are lively and captivating. The five adorable ducklings embark on this rite of passage sporting unique looks ranging from Mohawk-type head feathers to orange spots and flowered hair adornments. A pleasant enough take on an old standby. (Picture book. 2-5)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2003

ISBN: 0-689-84723-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2002

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