THE WIND IN THE WILLOWS

All told, an elegantly designed volume ready to take its rightful place on any child’s bookshelf.

Many famous artists have interpreted the antics and adventures of Mole, Ratty, Toad and Badger. Roberts takes a decidedly modern approach in this gift edition sure to appeal to another generation of readers.

From the glimmer of silver-foiled lettering on the front cover to the full-color illustrations liberally dispersed throughout, readers of all ages can fully immerse themselves in Grahame’s settings. Images executed in watercolor, ink, pen and pencil perfectly convey the postures of a distraught Mole or a momentarily contrite Toad, while the backgrounds impress with a range of seasons and circumstances. Washes of a dominant color are given fine details and highlights with touches of contrasting color, as when cool, frosty blues give way to a circle of white that glows around a young mouse choir, all snuggled in their vibrant orange-red scarves, as they sing carols. Humor abounds. Giggles will erupt at the picture of Toad alarmed and upside down, with the birds at the bottom of the page and the grassy bank slanting at the top. The variety of full-page, double-page and spot illustrations keeps the experience lively. Although purists may quibble at the omission of the chapter “The Piper at the Gates of Dawn,” those new to the book will not miss it (but may inquire who the mischievous boy—the Greek god Pan—is that appears on a few pages).

All told, an elegantly designed volume ready to take its rightful place on any child’s bookshelf. (Fantasy. All ages)

Pub Date: Sept. 10, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-7636-6526-5

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Aug. 2, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2013

FAMILIES BELONG

A joyful celebration.

Families in a variety of configurations play, dance, and celebrate together.

The rhymed verse, based on a song from the Noodle Loaf children’s podcast, declares that “Families belong / Together like a puzzle / Different-sized people / One big snuggle.” The accompanying image shows an interracial couple of caregivers (one with brown skin and one pale) cuddling with a pajama-clad toddler with light brown skin and surrounded by two cats and a dog. Subsequent pages show a wide array of families with members of many different racial presentations engaging in bike and bus rides, indoor dance parties, and more. In some, readers see only one caregiver: a father or a grandparent, perhaps. One same-sex couple with two children in tow are expecting another child. Smart’s illustrations are playful and expressive, curating the most joyful moments of family life. The verse, punctuated by the word together, frequently set in oversized font, is gently inclusive at its best but may trip up readers with its irregular rhythms. The song that inspired the book can be found on the Noodle Loaf website.

A joyful celebration. (Board book. 1-3)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-22276-8

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Rise x Penguin Workshop

Review Posted Online: Nov. 26, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2020

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

Close Quickview