Fanciful—but factual where it matters.

Photographs, accompanied by a rhyming text, document the first summer of a young loon the author calls Moon.

Salas imagines the story of a young chick from a series of photos of loon chicks and their parents taken by Dayton, an environmental lawyer–turned–nature photographer. Her text, conveyed in loose quatrains, follows Moon from hatchling to first migration. Much of loon development is instinctive, the writer explains: “Every secret Moon needs, / she carries inside.” In fact, in Salas’ text, her body parts have actual agency. Moon is prompted to dive by her “heavy bones” and to fly by her wing feathers, but readers also see her parents teaching her—to feed and defend herself and even that flying is a possibility. Fran Hodgkins’ Little Loon, illustrated by Karel Hayes (2015), tells a similar story; Susan Vande Griek’s free-verse Loon, illustrated by Karen Reczuch (2011), provides more information. What sets this book apart are the sharp, clear photographs of the loons and their chicks, set on a digitally collaged background. The range of images chosen also reveals the white pines surrounding the loons’ lake and, in one case, a pair of human paddlers watching from a canoe. Full-bleed double-page spreads illustrate the climax as Moon begins to fly. The backmatter reveals “More Loon Secrets” and suggests selected sources for further information.

Fanciful—but factual where it matters. (Informational picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: April 28, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-68134-158-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Minnesota Historical Society Press

Review Posted Online: March 14, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020



Renata’s wren encounter proves magical, one most children could only wish to experience outside of this lovely story.

A home-renovation project is interrupted by a family of wrens, allowing a young girl an up-close glimpse of nature.

Renata and her father enjoy working on upgrading their bathroom, installing a clawfoot bathtub, and cutting a space for a new window. One warm night, after Papi leaves the window space open, two wrens begin making a nest in the bathroom. Rather than seeing it as an unfortunate delay of their project, Renata and Papi decide to let the avian carpenters continue their work. Renata witnesses the birth of four chicks as their rosy eggs split open “like coats that are suddenly too small.” Renata finds at a crucial moment that she can help the chicks learn to fly, even with the bittersweet knowledge that it will only hasten their exits from her life. Rosen uses lively language and well-chosen details to move the story of the baby birds forward. The text suggests the strong bond built by this Afro-Latinx father and daughter with their ongoing project without needing to point it out explicitly, a light touch in a picture book full of delicate, well-drawn moments and precise wording. Garoche’s drawings are impressively detailed, from the nest’s many small bits to the developing first feathers on the chicks and the wall smudges and exposed wiring of the renovation. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10-by-20-inch double-page spreads viewed at actual size.)

Renata’s wren encounter proves magical, one most children could only wish to experience outside of this lovely story. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: March 16, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-12320-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Schwartz & Wade/Random

Review Posted Online: Jan. 12, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2021


A stocking stuffer par excellence, just right for dishing up with milk and cookies.

Pigeon finds something better to drive than some old bus.

This time it’s Santa delivering the fateful titular words, and with a “Ho. Ho. Whoa!” the badgering begins: “C’mon! Where’s your holiday spirit? It would be a Christmas MIRACLE! Don’t you want to be part of a Christmas miracle…?” Pigeon is determined: “I can do Santa stuff!” Like wrapping gifts (though the accompanying illustration shows a rather untidy present), delivering them (the image of Pigeon attempting to get an oversize sack down a chimney will have little ones giggling), and eating plenty of cookies. Alas, as Willems’ legion of young fans will gleefully predict, not even Pigeon’s by-now well-honed persuasive powers (“I CAN BE JOLLY!”) will budge the sleigh’s large and stinky reindeer guardian. “BAH. Also humbug.” In the typically minimalist art, the frustrated feathered one sports a floppily expressive green and red elf hat for this seasonal addition to the series—but then discards it at the end for, uh oh, a pair of bunny ears. What could Pigeon have in mind now? “Egg delivery, anyone?”

A stocking stuffer par excellence, just right for dishing up with milk and cookies. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2023

ISBN: 9781454952770

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Union Square Kids

Review Posted Online: Sept. 12, 2023

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