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Scientific investigation meets magic in this glowing selection.

A flight of scientific fancy.

As the daughter of world-renowned scientist Charles Darwin, young Henrietta “Etty” Darwin learned to question the world around her even as she wrote fairy stories on the backs of his manuscripts. This distinctive selection, presented in a modified graphic-panel format, shows the daughter and father (and their dog) as they embark on a “thinking path” called The Sandwalk—a well-trod trail that Darwin and his family wandered while pondering ideas—and the two have a discussion (imagined by the author) about the existence of fairies and the problem of evidence. Dialogue bubbles furnish the questions and answers while poetic, descriptive narrative sentences provide just the right amount of context, and together they offer up a pair of believable, inquisitive characters, warm and sweet without the faintest whiff of sentimentality. Lush, layered illustrations give a sense of the Victorian era while they capture a realistic natural landscape with forays into fantasy, Etty always at its center; a spread featuring yellow butterflies is particularly dazzling. Etty’s heavy brows and quizzical expressions show a girl unconcerned with looking pretty, deep in thought and an intrinsic part of the flora and fauna that surround both her father and herself. The two White characters are joined by Polly the dog, a detail sure to appeal. An excellent introduction to the natural sciences, Darwin, fairies, and inquiry, sure to inspire and fascinate young readers and listeners. (This book was reviewed digitally with 11-by-19-inch double-page spreads viewed at 55.9% of actual size.)

Scientific investigation meets magic in this glowing selection. (author’s note) (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: May 18, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-7352-6608-7

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Tundra Books

Review Posted Online: March 16, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2021

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A good bet for the youngest bird-watchers.

Echoing the meter of “Mary Had a Little Lamb,” Ward uses catchy original rhymes to describe the variety of nests birds create.

Each sweet stanza is complemented by a factual, engaging description of the nesting habits of each bird. Some of the notes are intriguing, such as the fact that the hummingbird uses flexible spider web to construct its cup-shaped nest so the nest will stretch as the chicks grow. An especially endearing nesting behavior is that of the emperor penguin, who, with unbelievable patience, incubates the egg between his tummy and his feet for up to 60 days. The author clearly feels a mission to impart her extensive knowledge of birds and bird behavior to the very young, and she’s found an appealing and attractive way to accomplish this. The simple rhymes on the left page of each spread, written from the young bird’s perspective, will appeal to younger children, and the notes on the right-hand page of each spread provide more complex factual information that will help parents answer further questions and satisfy the curiosity of older children. Jenkins’ accomplished collage illustrations of common bird species—woodpecker, hummingbird, cowbird, emperor penguin, eagle, owl, wren—as well as exotics, such as flamingoes and hornbills, are characteristically naturalistic and accurate in detail.

A good bet for the youngest bird-watchers.   (author’s note, further resources) (Informational picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 18, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4424-2116-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Beach Lane/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Jan. 3, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2014

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A solid, small step for diversifying STEM stories.

What does Annie want to be?

As career day approaches, Annie wants to keep her job choice secret until her family sees her presentation at school. Readers will figure it out, however, through the title and clues Tadgell incorporates into the illustrations. Family members make guesses about her ambitions that are tied to their own passions, although her brother watches as she completes her costume in a bedroom with a Mae Jemison poster, starry décor, and a telescope. There’s a celebratory mood at the culminating presentation, where Annie says she wants to “soar high through the air” like her basketball-playing mother, “explore faraway places” like her hiker dad, and “be brave and bold” like her baker grandmother (this feels forced, but oven mitts are part of her astronaut costume) so “the whole world will hear my exciting stories” like her reporter grandfather. Annie jumps off a chair to “BLAST OFF” in a small illustration superimposed on a larger picture depicting her floating in space with a reddish ground below. It’s unclear if Annie imagines this scene or if it’s her future-self exploring Mars, but either scenario fits the aspirational story. Backmatter provides further reading suggestions and information about the moon and four women astronauts, one of whom is Jemison. Annie and her family are all black.

A solid, small step for diversifying STEM stories. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 6, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-88448-523-0

Page Count: 36

Publisher: Tilbury House

Review Posted Online: Feb. 3, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2018

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