A lovely foundation for forays into poetry and for building a love of buildings.

CONSTRUCTION PEOPLE

Fourteen poems capture a skyscraper’s construction, from beginning to completion, in vivid detail.

In the first verse, by Rebecca Kai Dotlich, the nascent high-rise, narrating from an empty lot, excitedly contemplates its future: the workers and materials its construction will entail and how it will eventually ascend to lofty heights; in the last, also by Dotlich, the finished structure proudly announces its presence on the “spectacular skyline.” The remaining robust poems, each by a different contributor and presented on double-page spreads, describe the various skilled jobs and professionals involved in a skyscraper’s planning and building and also—take note, vehicle mavens—the trucks required at a construction site. Apart from enjoying jaunty rhymes that scan well and include numerous delightful turns of phrase, readers gain insight into the many workers who collaborate on a new building’s successful, safe skyward climb. Additionally, children will build their vocabularies with nifty words like “glaziers” and “welders.” Onomatopoeia is used to good, dramatic effect where applicable. Lively, appealing artwork grounds this collection: Many of its action-filled illustrations also highlight verticals and horizontals. Women are well represented throughout as skilled, busy professionals in various nonstereotypical or supervisory positions. Workers are depicted with varied skin tones, hairstyles, and racial presentations, including the female Asian architect and her daughter, recurring characters. Endpapers are rich ocher, the color of soil.

A lovely foundation for forays into poetry and for building a love of buildings. (Picture book/poetry. 4-8)

Pub Date: March 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-68437-361-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Wordsong/Boyds Mills

Review Posted Online: Dec. 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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A poem about the pandemic with vivid illustrations and a strong environmental message.

AND THE PEOPLE STAYED HOME

During a period of quarantine, people discover new ways to live—and new lessons about how to care for the planet—in this debut picture book.

In this work’s poem, O’Meara describes lockdowns experienced by many across the world during the first days of the Covid-19 pandemic. Beginning with the title phrase, the author discusses quiet activities of solitude and togetherness as well as more boisterous ways of interacting. These times of being apart give people a new perspective, and when they reunite, “they grieved their losses, / and made new choices” to restore the planet. The spare verse allows the illustrations by Di Cristofaro and Pereda to take center stage. The colorful, slightly abstract cartoons depict a rainbow of people and pets, many of them living in apartments but some residing in larger, greener spaces. Images of nature healing show the author’s vision of hope for the future. While this was written in March and originally published as an online poem, the lack of an explicit mention of the reason behind the lockdowns (and the omission of the experiences of essential workers) could offer readers an opportunity to imagine a planetary healing beyond the pandemic that inspired the piece. The accessible prose and beautiful images make this a natural selection for young readers, but older ones may appreciate the work’s deeper meaning.

A poem about the pandemic with vivid illustrations and a strong environmental message.

Pub Date: Nov. 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-73476-178-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Tra Publishing

Review Posted Online: Sept. 4, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2020

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This charming star shines bright.

THE SUN IS KIND OF A BIG DEAL

A humorous introduction to our sun and the solar system.

Webcomic creator Seluk aquaints readers with the sun (sporting a sly grin and a cool pair of shades) and its position as both the literal and metaphorical star of the solar system. Readers are introduced to the planets’ general relationships to the sun before diving deeper into the Earth’s unique reliance on the sun: “It does a ton of important jobs for Earth. In fact, we wouldn’t be around without the Sun!” The book explores everything from the effects of Earth’s rotation on our planet’s temperatures, daylight, and seasons to the water cycle and photosynthesis with clear and friendly prose. The planets’ characterizations are silly and irreverent: Venus wears a visor, Saturn is a hula-hoop champ, and Jupiter desperately wants an autograph but pretends it’s for one of its moons. Speech-bubble asides and simple but expressive faces and arm postures add to the celestial bodies’ personalities. Bright colors, contrasting backgrounds, and bold lines are engaging but never overwhelming. Vocabulary words set in boldface are tied to a glossary in the back. Backmatter also includes a gossip-magazine–style spread (“Planets: They’re Just Like Us!”) and a “Did You Know” section that highlights ancient civilizations’ beliefs about the sun.

This charming star shines bright. (Informational picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 25, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-338-16697-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Orchard/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: June 25, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2018

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