More a 21st-century meditation on selfhood than an encouragement to quiet observation.

AM I LIKE YOU?

A light-skinned, blond boy and his light-skinned, brown-haired mother wander through the woods, looking at birds.

Presumably in an effort to encourage observation and to allow the child to relate to wildlife, they play a (awkwardly worded) game called “Am I Like You?” in which they address the questions “What birds are like us? / What birds are we like?” The illustrations are skillfully drawn, bold, and Disney-esque in aesthetic, clearly and accurately portraying characteristics of common North American birds: American robin, chickadee, cardinal, blue jay, red-tailed hawk, hummingbird, Canada goose, mallard, great blue heron, pigeon, and owl. However if the intention of this book is to introduce characteristics of birds to young children, it falls short. The text consists of poorly scanned, sometimes confusing verse that anthropomorphizes birds but does little to illuminate their true characteristics and habits, in some cases even obscuring them. This book seems to bend over backward to popularize nature study and in doing so, dumbs it down by providing too little factual information for a curious child or for a teacher or parent to share with a young reader. Surely the resources of the publisher, the respected Cornell Lab of Ornithology, could be tapped to provide a child-friendly technical guide to the birds portrayed.

More a 21st-century meditation on selfhood than an encouragement to quiet observation. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Aug. 9, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-943645-03-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Cornell Lab Publishing Group

Review Posted Online: June 22, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2016

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A quiet, warm look at the bond between grandfather and grandson.

MAX AND THE TAG-ALONG MOON

After a visit, an African-American grandfather and grandson say farewell under a big yellow moon. Granpa tells Max it is the same moon he will see when he gets home.

This gently told story uses Max’s fascination with the moon’s ability to “tag along” where his family’s car goes as a metaphor for his grandfather’s constant love. Separating the two relatives is “a swervy-curvy road” that travels up and down hills, over a bridge, “past a field of sleeping cows,” around a small town and through a tunnel. No matter where Max travels, the moon is always there, waiting around a curve or peeking through the trees. But then “[d]ark clouds tumbled across the night sky.” No stars, no nightingales and no moon are to be found. Max frets: “Granpa said it would always shine for me.” Disappointed, Max climbs into bed, missing both the moon and his granpa. In a dramatic double-page spread, readers see Max’s excitement as “[s]lowly, very slowly, Max’s bedroom began to fill with a soft yellow glow.” Cooper uses his signature style to illustrate both the landscape—sometimes viewed from the car windows or reflected in the vehicle’s mirror—and the expressive faces of his characters. Coupled with the story’s lyrical text, this is a lovely mood piece.

A quiet, warm look at the bond between grandfather and grandson. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: June 13, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-399-23342-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: March 13, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2013

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A beautifully poignant celebration of memories of a loved one that live on in those that remain.

THE SOUR CHERRY TREE

With ample emotional subtext, a young girl recalls everyday details about her beloved grandfather the day after his death.

The child bites her mother’s toe to wake her up, wishing that she could have done the same for her baba bozorg, her beloved grandfather, who had forgotten to wake up the day before. She kisses a pancake that reminds her of her grandfather’s face. Her mother, who had been admonishing her for playing with her food, laughs and kisses the pancake’s forehead. Returning to Baba Bozorg’s home, the child sees minute remnants of her grandfather: a crumpled-up tissue, smudgy eyeglasses, and mint wrappers in his coat pockets. From these artifacts the narrator transitions to less tangible, but no less vivid, memories of playing together and looks of love that transcend language barriers. Deeply evocative, Hrab’s narrative captures a child’s understanding of loss with gentle subtlety, and gives space for processing those feelings. Kazemi’s chalk pastel art pairs perfectly with the text and title: Pink cherry hues, smoky grays, and hints of green plants appear throughout the book, concluding in an explosion of vivid green that brings a sense of renewal, joy, and remembrance to the heartfelt ending. Though the story is universally relevant, cultural cues and nods to Iranian culture will resonate strongly with readers of Iranian/Persian heritage. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A beautifully poignant celebration of memories of a loved one that live on in those that remain. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-77147-414-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Owlkids Books

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2021

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Share this feel-good title with those who love art and those who can appreciate the confidence-building triumph of solving a...

SKY COLOR

Reynolds returns to a favorite topic—creative self-expression—with characteristic skill in a companion title to The Dot (2003) and Ish (2004).

Marisol is “an artist through and through. So when her teacher told her class they were going to paint a mural…, Marisol couldn’t wait to begin.” As each classmate claims a part of the picture to paint, Marisol declares she will “paint the sky.” But she soon discovers there is no blue paint and wonders what she will do without the vital color. Up to this point, the author uses color sparingly—to accent a poster or painting of Marisol’s or to highlight the paint jars on a desk. During her bus ride home, Marisol wonders what to do and stares out the window. The next spread reveals a vibrant departure from the gray tones of the previous pages. Reds, oranges, lemon yellows and golds streak across the sunset sky. Marisol notices the sky continuing to change in a rainbow of colors…except blue. After awakening from a colorful dream to a gray rainy day, Marisol smiles. With a fervent mixing of paints, she creates a beautiful swirling sky that she describes as “sky color.” Fans of Reynolds will enjoy the succinct language enhanced by illustrations in pen, ink, watercolor, gouache and tea.

Share this feel-good title with those who love art and those who can appreciate the confidence-building triumph of solving a problem on one’s own—creatively. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Aug. 28, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-7636-2345-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: June 20, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2012

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