THERE’S A BILLY GOAT IN THE GARDEN

Using a premise similar to the plot in Jan Brett’s Berlioz the Bear (1991), this much simpler tale uses rhyme and repetition to delight young readers who will revel in the predictable result of the bee’s entrance into the story. Each animal claims he is bigger than the one before it and is sure that he can get the billy goat out of the garden—but of course, the “billy goat will NOT COME OUT.” That simple refrain carries the tale forward as one animal after another sniffs and sorts or clips and clops in an effort to move the billy goat out of the garden. In the end it is not bigger and better but the tiny bee that accomplishes the task as he buzzes all about. Basing her story on a Puerto Rican folktale, Gugler (Facing the Day, not reviewed, etc.) has created a retelling that begs the active participation of young listeners. Repeated readings will engage very young listeners and will invite independent readings by a slightly older child. Beaton’s (Never Say Boo to a Goose, 2002, etc.) clever, felt appliqués are enhanced with beads, buttons, and stitching that seem perfectly suited to a tale that portrays the goat as being in the garden surrounded by clothing on the line and flowers sprouting from the green grass. This rhythm-filled tale is a perfect choice for those libraries serving the youngest of readers. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: March 1, 2003

ISBN: 1-84148-089-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Barefoot Books

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2003

CARPENTER'S HELPER

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

LOVE FROM THE CRAYONS

As ephemeral as a valentine.

Daywalt and Jeffers’ wandering crayons explore love.

Each double-page spread offers readers a vision of one of the anthropomorphic crayons on the left along with the statement “Love is [color].” The word love is represented by a small heart in the appropriate color. Opposite, childlike crayon drawings explain how that color represents love. So, readers learn, “love is green. / Because love is helpful.” The accompanying crayon drawing depicts two alligators, one holding a recycling bin and the other tossing a plastic cup into it, offering readers two ways of understanding green. Some statements are thought-provoking: “Love is white. / Because sometimes love is hard to see,” reaches beyond the immediate image of a cat’s yellow eyes, pink nose, and black mouth and whiskers, its white face and body indistinguishable from the paper it’s drawn on, to prompt real questions. “Love is brown. / Because sometimes love stinks,” on the other hand, depicted by a brown bear standing next to a brown, squiggly turd, may provoke giggles but is fundamentally a cheap laugh. Some of the color assignments have a distinctly arbitrary feel: Why is purple associated with the imagination and pink with silliness? Fans of The Day the Crayons Quit (2013) hoping for more clever, metaliterary fun will be disappointed by this rather syrupy read.

As ephemeral as a valentine. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Dec. 24, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5247-9268-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Penguin Workshop

Review Posted Online: Feb. 1, 2021

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