A gem of a small book, thoughtfully made for small hands and, with its heavy paper and sewn binding, loving handling.

THINGS THAT GROW

A compendium of things in the universe that grow—including the universe itself—presented in an illustrated informational picture book divided into chapters.

Vast processes (the growth of mountains through plate tectonics) are combined with specific examples (the echidna doesn’t develop its spines until it leaves its mother’s pouch) to successfully explore this book’s ambitious premise: all things in our universe “develop and grow with every passing day.” This is a big idea for young readers, and because the topic of the evolution of humans occupies only two of the book’s 64 pages, it also underscores the important concept that humans are only one small part of an expansive, growing, changing universe. The book is divided into three sections: "Plants and Trees," "The Animal Kingdom," and "The Universe." Walden selects her facts and examples not only to inform readers, but to stimulate in them a curiosity that may propel further exploration. Stadtlander’s numerous illustrations—accessibly simple but not amateurish—along with the book’s small, unusual trim size (7.5 inches long by 5.8 inches high), give the book almost the look and feel of a child’s journal, which makes the weighty topics approachable. The only drawback is the book’s ending (a spread on islands rather than a summation of what’s gone before), which feels inconclusive.

A gem of a small book, thoughtfully made for small hands and, with its heavy paper and sewn binding, loving handling. (Informational picture book. 6-12)

Pub Date: March 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-944530-05-1

Page Count: 64

Publisher: 360 Degrees

Review Posted Online: Dec. 21, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2017

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A deceptively simple, tender tale in which respect, resilience, and hope triumph.

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WISHTREE

Generations of human and animal families grow and change, seen from the point of view of the red oak Wishing Tree that shelters them all.

Most trees are introverts at heart. So says Red, who is over 200 years old and should know. Not to mention that they have complicated relationships with humans. But this tree also has perspective on its animal friends and people who live within its purview—not just witnessing, but ultimately telling the tales of young people coming to this country alone or with family. An Irish woman named Maeve is the first, and a young 10-year-old Muslim girl named Samar is the most recent. Red becomes the repository for generations of wishes; this includes both observing Samar’s longing wish and sporting the hurtful word that another young person carves into their bark as a protest to Samar’s family’s presence. (Red is monoecious, they explain, with both male and female flowers.) Newbery medalist Applegate succeeds at interweaving an immigrant story with an animated natural world and having it all make sense. As Red observes, animals compete for resources just as humans do, and nature is not always pretty or fair or kind. This swiftly moving yet contemplative read is great for early middle grade, reluctant or tentative readers, or precocious younger students.

A deceptively simple, tender tale in which respect, resilience, and hope triumph. (Fantasy. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-250-04322-1

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Review Posted Online: Aug. 2, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2017

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A lighthearted read that will offer comfort to young children that others too face challenges of friendship, teamwork and...

PARKER BELL AND THE SCIENCE OF FRIENDSHIP

In her debut chapter book, Platt shares the story of a young girl navigating friendships and the challenges of trying to win her school’s science triathlon.

Young Parker Bell is a curious child who loves science and aspires to match up to Mae Jemison and Jane Goodall one day. Her best friend and partner in science is coding whiz Cassie Malouf. They have been best friends since kindergarten, but Parker gets jealous when Cassie suddenly starts becoming friendly with Theo Zachary, a shy boy in their class. Parker worries that Cassie likes Theo more than her, and she fights hard to keep her friend. Matters only get worse when Cassie invites Theo to be part of their team for the science triathlon, which features a science trivia contest, an egg drop, and a presentation. In a somewhat predictable plot, Parker realizes she has a lot in common with Theo as she spends more time with him. Platt works hard to defy gender stereotypes. In addition to the girls’ STEM enthusiasm, Parker’s mom teaches phys ed, her dad owns a bakery, and Cassie’s mom teaches math. Zhai’s simple black-and-white illustrations of Parker, Cassie, and the classrooms provide a good visual aid to the story, depicting Parker and Theo as white and Cassie with dark skin and long black hair.

A lighthearted read that will offer comfort to young children that others too face challenges of friendship, teamwork and competition. (Fiction. 6-10)

Pub Date: May 21, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-328-97347-4

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Clarion

Review Posted Online: Feb. 17, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2019

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