MY GARDEN

A little girl enjoys helping her mother in her garden, but she knows if she had a garden, it would be something else entirely: no weeds, ever-blooming multicolored flowers with hues she can change with just a thought, chocolate rabbits instead of pests and so on. “If I planted seashells, I’d grow seashells. / ... / Sometimes in my garden, good, unusual things would just pop up—buttons, and umbrellas and rusty old keys.” With a neat, square trim and sunny, pastel palette, this intimate exploration of a child’s burgeoning imagination hits every note right. Sketching his outlines with broad, blue ink strokes, Henkes modulates his watercolors beautifully from bright daylight to dreamy firefly-light. Before going in for bed, she plants a seashell—and the artist validates every child’s imagination with his final image. Just plain perfect. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: March 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-06-171517-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2010

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A visual success conjuring up the best about the seasons’ changes.

GOODBYE SUMMER, HELLO AUTUMN

As a child walks through woods and town, summer turns to fall, and the natural world is met with a friendly hello.

A slim, brown child with a black-haired bob and hipster clothes stands on a stoop, ready to greet the late summer morning. On this picturesque journey through the seasons, the protagonist’s cordial salutation—whether made to blue jays and beavers or to the thunder and wind—is always the same: “Hello, [object].” And all amiably respond, providing tidbits of information about themselves. Unfortunately, their chatty replies miss the rhythm and easy conversational style that would make this shine as a read-aloud. It’s a shame, since the artist’s lush, evocative digital illustrations so perfectly capture the changing seasons in both the countryside and the town’s streets. To further accentuate the subject matter, Pak makes every spread a panorama, allowing readers to see and feel the various environments and habitats. Working in the tradition of such artists as Richard Scarry and Mary Blair, he takes a graphic approach, illustrating a world with simplified characters and shapes, layers of textures, and bold colors. Repeat visits will reveal new stories, such as the child’s collection and distribution of a carefully crafted bouquet to other people, whose diversity refreshingly reflects a range of skin tones, hairstyles, body types, and interests.

A visual success conjuring up the best about the seasons’ changes. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 16, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-62779-415-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: June 1, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2016

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THE LITTLE YELLOW LEAF

Beautifully designed and executed, this modest fable anthropomorphizes a leaf who hangs onto his oak branch far into the winter. When he discovers another late-lingering leaf on his tree, both agree to let go at once and dance away in the wind together. The brief text has a modestly elegant beauty and patterning that makes it a delight to read aloud (with one unfortunate adverbial faux pas: “the / sun / sank / slow”). The handsomely designed collage compositions are showstoppers in a palette of earth and sky, sometimes on a subtle background of paint over graph or notebook paper. They take full advantage of the visual bounty of autumn, which will be a delight in many preschool storytimes. However, the implicit moral of taking courage from a friend may be over some children’s heads. They might wonder, as well, what exactly happens to the brave little leaves after they drift out of sight into the cold winter sky. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2008

ISBN: 978-0-06-145223-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2008

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