Lighthearted, cursory look at the symbols needed to make sense of English writing.

READ REVIEW

THE DAY PUNCTUATION CAME TO TOWN

The Punctuation family has arrived in Alphabet City.

Exclamation Point, Question Mark, Comma, and Period are ready to attend school. Everyone is excited except shy Comma with his large, round, red glasses. The other siblings know their special jobs when they meet their fellow students, the alphabet letters. “But Comma? Comma tried not to get stepped on and fit in wherever he could.” The accompanying double-page illustration demonstrates each symbol’s important role: “wow” ends with Exclamation Point, “who” ends with Question Mark, “stop” ends with Period—and Comma tries to break up “ohno” but has a hard time inserting himself. (No capital letters here, as these letters are children.) The variously colored alphabet letters and the purple punctuation symbols take on singular personalities with amusing human features: pipestem arms and legs, baseball caps, hairstyles, glasses, faces, and freckles. Purple letters in the text emphasize the symbol names, although the contrast makes this fairly ineffective. As the story develops, the letters get a little rambunctious, the punctuation symbols work hard to organize them, and Comma realizes his essential place. “From now on, I’ll help keep things in order.” The story is slight, but with adult intervention, it could serve as an introductory look at punctuation in settings where the detailed, humorous illustrations can be seen up close.

Lighthearted, cursory look at the symbols needed to make sense of English writing. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-64170-145-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Familius

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2019

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It’s pretty to look at, but it’s too generic to be an essential addition to an autumnal-themed book collection.

OAK LEAF

Autumn’s arrival sends an oak leaf on a windswept adventure against dappled, pointillist-style paintings.

A leaf appears, distinct and crisp against the gauzy background. It’s an eye-catching burst of gold and umber that contrasts with the lovely, if unexpectedly spring-y, Monet-inspired pastel colors. As the text catalogs the leaf’s travels through settings both natural (“over freezing lake waters”) and built (blown about by a freight train), it’s odd that there are so few autumnal references. Some of the leaf’s adventures, such as wafting through a vividly crimson maple tree or glimpsing geese migrating, are topically seasonal, but others, like a visit to a calf or a momma fox, don’t feel as germane. As the oak leaf floats lower over the city, it’s caught and pressed in a book by a white girl, a pleasant conclusion that gives the leaf’s journey a feeling of completion, though the ending is hampered slightly by the child’s somewhat unfinished-looking face—the illustrator is clearly more adept at capturing sweeping natural scenes than portraits. Written with a quiet poeticism, concise lines such as “Up through the mist, away from the earth, up” establish a pensive tone that neatly matches the quiet tale, though the text isn’t exactly bursting with personality either.

It’s pretty to look at, but it’s too generic to be an essential addition to an autumnal-themed book collection. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 17, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-944903-73-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Cameron + Company

Review Posted Online: June 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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A bright, populous countdown for nature lovers, Midwestern or otherwise.

ONE NORTH STAR

A COUNTING BOOK

A cumulative tally of flora and fauna in Minnesota—the North Star State.

Bowen’s luminous painted woodcuts, based on designs by Prange, depict 10 northern biomes at sundry times of day and year. The residents of each are different, from an opening aerial glimpse of one moose browsing near a rocky Great Lakes beach followed by two brown bats in a limestone cave beneath one soaring rough-legged hawk to views of 10 teals, nine showy goldenrods, eight milkweed pods, seven Canada geese, and other sights common to a broad tallgrass prairie—all, as the refrain goes, “under one north star.” After a pointed reminder about one final resident—“You live here, too,” showing light-skinned figures at a campfire—Root closes with brief nature notes on the featured plants and animals, plus directions for finding Polaris in the night sky. Despite a patterned format, Root’s not-particularly-rhythmic text isn’t as sonically pleasing as her own Plant a Pocket of Prairie, also illustrated by Bowen (2014), or Donna M. Bateman’s Out on the Prairie, illustrated by Susan Swan (2012), but as befits the various settings, the wild cast is considerably more diverse.

A bright, populous countdown for nature lovers, Midwestern or otherwise. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 15, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-8166-5063-7

Page Count: 36

Publisher: Univ. of Minnesota

Review Posted Online: June 22, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2016

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