An attractive addition to the nature shelf.

SNOW BIRDS

Rhyming couplets introduce birds one might see in spite of winter snows.

Hall describes behaviors that help 17 species survive cold winters. She begins and ends with the blue jays familiar to readers east of the Rockies: a pair that takes peanuts from a feeder to hide for later and then, in spring, builds a nest for a new generation. In between she introduces a broad range of birds, some residents and some with shorter seasonal migrations that end in parts of the U.S. that are cold and snowy. Carolina wrens, snow geese, black-capped chickadees, American tree sparrows, downy woodpeckers, and northern cardinals are birds whose winter ranges span much of the country; common redpolls, snow buntings, black rosy-finches, Atlantic puffins, Bohemian waxwings, ruffed grouse, great gray and snowy owls, and golden crowned kinglets frequent only small parts. Readers are quite unlikely to encounter an ivory gull stealing its winter food from polar bears! Desmond’s double-page spreads show the birds beautifully, and they include important details about their appearances, their usual numbers, and their environments. Predominantly done in muted tones with lots of black, white, and shades of gray, they have spots of color when appropriate. Where the bird’s sounds aren’t included in the poem, they’re worked into the images. Hall’s skillful poetry reads aloud well, making this a solid candidate for small-group storytime even where the birds—or even the snow—aren’t familiar. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10.5-by-18-inch double-page spreads viewed at 81.6% of actual size.)

An attractive addition to the nature shelf. (further information) (Informational picture book/poetry. 4-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4197-4203-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: Sept. 29, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2020

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Self-serving to be sure but also chock-full of worthy values and sentiments.

SUPERHEROES ARE EVERYWHERE

The junior senator from California introduces family and friends as everyday superheroes.

The endpapers are covered with cascades of, mostly, early childhood snapshots (“This is me contemplating the future”—caregivers of toddlers will recognize that abstracted look). In between, Harris introduces heroes in her life who have shaped her character: her mom and dad, whose superpowers were, respectively, to make her feel special and brave; an older neighbor known for her kindness; grandparents in India and Jamaica who “[stood] up for what’s right” (albeit in unspecified ways); other relatives and a teacher who opened her awareness to a wider world; and finally iconic figures such as Thurgood Marshall and Constance Baker Motley who “protected people by using the power of words and ideas” and whose examples inspired her to become a lawyer. “Heroes are…YOU!” she concludes, closing with a bulleted Hero Code and a timeline of her legal and political career that ends with her 2017 swearing-in as senator. In group scenes, some of the figures in the bright, simplistic digital illustrations have Asian features, some are in wheelchairs, nearly all are people of color. Almost all are smiling or grinning. Roe provides everyone identified as a role model with a cape and poses the author, who is seen at different ages wearing an identifying heart pin or decoration, next to each.

Self-serving to be sure but also chock-full of worthy values and sentiments. (Picture book/memoir. 5-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-984837-49-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: Jan. 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2019

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Engaging, well-chosen images and a clear, coherent text illuminate the importance of empathy for the world’s inhabitants.

A WORLD TOGETHER

Large color photographs (occasionally composed of montages) and accessible, simple text highlight global similarities and differences, always focusing on our universal connections.

While child readers may not recognize Manzano, the Puerto Rican actress who played Maria on Sesame Street, adults will recognize her as a trusted diverse voice. In her endnote, she explains her desire to “encourage lively conversations about shared experiences.” Starting out with the familiar, home and community, the text begins with “How many WONDERFUL PEOPLE do you know?” Then it moves out to the world: “Did you know there are about 8 BILLION PEOPLE on the planet?” The photo essay features the usual concrete similarities and differences found in many books of this type, such as housing (a Mongolian yurt opposite a Hong Kong apartment building overlooking a basketball court), food (dumplings, pizza, cotton candy, a churro, etc.), and school. Manzano also makes sure to point out likenesses in emotions, as shown in a montage of photos from countries including China, Spain, Kashmir (Pakistan/India), and the United States. At the end, a world map and thumbnail images show the locations of all photos, revealing a preponderance of examples from the U.S. and a slight underrepresentation for Africa and South America.

Engaging, well-chosen images and a clear, coherent text illuminate the importance of empathy for the world’s inhabitants. (Informational picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4263-3738-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: National Geographic Kids

Review Posted Online: May 3, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2020

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