What’s not to love about this endearing and effervescent picture book?

APPLE AND MAGNOLIA

With support from Nana, Britta sets out to help one of her favorite trees heal.

Britta is a capable, vivacious girl who insists that her two favorite trees—Apple and Magnolia—are best friends. Exuberant artwork with vigorous brush strokes depicts brown-skinned, curly-haired Britta smiling up at her arboreal friends in the daytime and dancing near them as they sway at night. When Magnolia’s branches begin to droop, irresistible Britta, flanked by her pets, brainstorms ways to help Magnolia connect with Apple, measuring the distance between the trees as the months progress: She creates a cup-and-string telephone, knits an enormous scarf, and hangs a string of lights, all in a determined attempt to connect the two trees. Britta’s light-skinned, bespectacled Dad and her dark-skinned, plugged-in older sister, Bronwyn, are skeptical of Britta’s efforts. In an effective use of repetition, her father “nicely” rejects Britta’s ideas, and Bronwyn pooh-poohs everything with the qualifiers absolutely, positively. Wise, dark-skinned Nana encourages Britta by sharing wisdom, prompting ideas with questions, and joining in her tree-healing campaign. As the author’s note mentions, cutting-edge science underlies this seemingly whimsical story, and observant readers will notice that Britta’s observations, measurements, and data-keeping capture the scientific method in action. Nana’s assertions about the power of “unusual friendships” encourage readers to consider this heartwarming tale in both literal and figurative ways.

What’s not to love about this endearing and effervescent picture book? (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Feb. 8, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-947888-35-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Flyaway Books

Review Posted Online: Nov. 16, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2021

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A TREE IS NICE

A nursery school approach to a general concept. "A tree is nice"- Why? Because..."We can climb the tree...play pirate ship...pick the apples...build playhouses out of the leaves. A tree is nice to hang a swing in...Birds build nests in trees... Sticks come off trees...People have picnics there too"...etc. etc. One follows the give and take of a shared succession of reactions to what a tree- or trees- can mean. There is a kind of poetic simplicity that is innate in small children. Marc Simont has made the pictures, half in full color, and they too have a childlike directness (with an underlying sophistication that adults will recognize). Not a book for everyone -but those who like it will like it immensely. The format (6 x 11) makes it a difficult book for shelving, so put it in the "clean hands" section of flat books. Here's your first book for Arbor Day use- a good spring and summer item.

Pub Date: June 15, 1956

ISBN: 978-0-06-443147-7

Page Count: 36

Publisher: Harper

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1956

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As brilliant as can be.

SUN FLOWER LION

A sun, a flower, and a lion. They look similar, no?

Introduced in a wordless panel before the title page, the three figures bear at least two shapes in common. They’re also the same combination of warm yellow and (somehow just as warm) white, outlined in thick black line that pops against the muted yellow background. The text, divided into six short chapters, goes on to introduce the figures in isolation: “This is the sun. / Can you see it?” the narrator asks before going on to proclaim that the sun “is as bright as a flower.” When the flower is introduced, it’s compared to a lion. The lion? He isn’t compared to anything but instead smells the flower and warms himself in the sun. In the next chapter, the lion dreams that the flowers are sun-sized cookies. He wakes up hungry and runs home as fast as he can. Can readers spot him on the page? Using a vocabulary of fewer than 60 words and their variants—and a visual vocabulary of even fewer shapes and colors—Henkes creates an impeccably designed story that’s rewarding for toddlers and early readers alike. The repetitive structure and tone call to mind the playful simplicity of Mem Fox and Judy Horacek’s Where Is the Green Sheep? (2004). With imagination at its center, this participatory read-aloud also cleverly introduces the concept of simile (“It looks like a lion”) and metaphor (“The flowers are cookies”).

As brilliant as can be. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 22, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-286610-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Review Posted Online: June 3, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2020

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