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MIRA FORECASTS THE FUTURE

Uneven visuals make this a marginal choice.

A fortuneteller’s daughter discovers a talent for meteorology.

Mira longs to tell fortunes like her mother, Madame Mirabella, who practices her craft in a caravan parked on a seaside boardwalk. Unfortunately, try as she might, she just hasn’t got the gift. But when her mother buys Mira a windsock and a pinwheel, the child realizes that they can help her predict the weather. She bones up on meteorology at the library, learning about barometers, anemometers, and more, then sets herself up as a weather forecaster on the boardwalk. Her accuracy is tested on a gorgeous sunny day when, after noticing the plummeting barometer, she calls a halt to a big surfing contest—just before a mammoth storm hits. Andrews’ debut folds meteorological information into a satisfying kid-finds-her-talent-and saves-the-day tale; readers will appreciate the dark-skinned girl’s expertise and the way adults listen to her. Painting digitally with a modern animation aesthetic, Marlin sets the story in a 1920s-era town, a choice that’s at odds with such details as a female lifeguard named Taylor and Mira’s recommendation that she “wear SPF 100”—not to mention the surfing contest. She festoons Mira’s mother with a hodgepodge of stereotypically exotic garb, even when she’s off duty, and dresses the rest of her fairly diverse cast in flapper-era garb. The amusement-pier backdrop adds a festive touch.

Uneven visuals make this a marginal choice. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: June 14, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4549-1698-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Sterling

Review Posted Online: April 12, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2016

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CARPENTER'S HELPER

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

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. 12, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2021

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IZZY GIZMO AND THE INVENTION CONVENTION

From the Izzy Gizmo series

A disappointing follow-up.

Inventor Izzy Gizmo is back in this sequel to her eponymous debut (2017).

While busily inventing one day, Izzy receives an invitation from the Genius Guild to their annual convention. Though Izzy’s “inventions…don’t always work,” Grandpa (apparently her sole caregiver) encourages her to go. The next day they undertake a long journey “over fields, hills, and waves” and “mile after mile” to isolated Technoff Isle. There, Izzy finds she must compete against four other kids to create the most impressive machine. The colorful, detail-rich illustrations chronicle how poor Izzy is thwarted at every turn by Abi von Lavish, a Veruca Salt–esque character who takes all the supplies for herself. But when Abi abandons her project, Izzy salvages the pieces and decides to take Grandpa’s advice to create a machine that “can really be put to good use.” A frustrated Izzy’s impatience with a friend almost foils her chance at the prize, but all’s well that ends well. There’s much to like: Brown-skinned inventor girl Izzy is an appealing character, it’s great to see a nurturing brown-skinned male caregiver, the idea of an “Invention Convention” is fun, and a sustainable-energy invention is laudable. However, these elements don’t make up for rhymes that often feel forced and a lackluster story.

A disappointing follow-up. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: March 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-68263-164-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Peachtree

Review Posted Online: Jan. 11, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

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