ALL WE KNOW

Echoing Ecclesiastes, Ashman explores ordinary miracles through the seasons.

“A cloud knows how to rain. / The thunder, how to boom. // A bulb knows when it’s time to sleep / and when it’s time to bloom.” The gentle rhymes continue as the pages turn, the seasons changing from spring to summer, then fall to winter. Seeds sprout, lambs bleat, waves tumble to the shore, swallows migrate, oak leaves fall, bears hibernate, and hares change to their winter coats. “And—not so very long ago, / on a moonlit night— / you knew how to tell me / that the time was finally right. // The days know how to march along / no matter what we do. / And I know how to love you. / No one taught me… // I just knew.” Ashman’s poetic verses are perfectly complemented by Dyer’s watercolor, acrylic, pencil, and gouache illustrations, which portray the natural world realistically, from the eyelashes on the lamb and the fuzz on the bee to the needles on the evergreen. A curly-haired blond cherub with wonderfully chubby pink cheeks is the focus, enjoying the wonders of nature. When the thunder booms and the waves crash, mother is there to soothe and protect, love, and provide a lap for reading this very book. 

Simply beautiful. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 8, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-06-168958-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 8, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2016

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There’s nothing especially new here, but the good-natured celebration of books, reading, and libraries will charm fellow...

THE BOOK HOG

A porcine hoarder of books learns to read—and to share.

The Book Hog’s obsession is clear from the start. Short declarative sentences describe his enthusiasm (“The Book Hog loved books”), catalog the things he likes about the printed page, and eventually reveal his embarrassing secret (“He didn’t know how to read”). While the text is straightforward, plenty of amusing visual details will entertain young listeners. A picture of the Book Hog thumbing through a book while seated on the toilet should induce some giggles. The allusive name of a local bookshop (“Wilbur’s”) as well as the covers of a variety of familiar and much-loved books (including some of the author’s own) offer plenty to pore over. And the fact that the titles become legible only after our hero learns to read is a particularly nice touch. A combination of vignettes, single-page illustrations and double-page spreads that feature Pizzoli’s characteristic style—heavy black outlines, a limited palette of mostly salmon and mint green, and simple shapes—move the plot along briskly. Librarians will appreciate the positive portrayal of Miss Olive, an elephant who welcomes the Book Hog warmly to storytime, though it’s unlikely most will be able to match her superlative level of service.

There’s nothing especially new here, but the good-natured celebration of books, reading, and libraries will charm fellow bibliophiles, and the author’s fans will enjoy making another anthropomorphic animal friend. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 26, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-368-03689-4

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Nov. 12, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2018

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A quiet, thought-provoking story of environmental change and the power humans have to slow it.

THE OLD BOAT

A multigenerational tale of a boat’s life with a Black family, written by two brothers who loved similar boats.

In the opening spread, a smiling, brown-skinned adult dangles a line from the back of a green-and-white boat while a boy peers eagerly over the side at the sea life. The text never describes years passing, but each page turn reveals the boy’s aging, more urban development on the shore, increasing water pollution, marine-life changes (sea jellies abound on one page), and shifting water levels. Eventually, the boy, now a teenager, steers the boat, and as an adult, he fishes alone but must go farther and farther out to sea to make his catch. One day, the man loses his way, capsizes in a storm, and washes up on a small bay island, with the overturned, sunken boat just offshore. Now a “new sailor” cleans up the land and water with others’ help. The physical similarities between the shipwrecked sailor and the “new sailor” suggest that this is not a new person but one whose near-death experience has led to an epiphany that changes his relationship to water. As the decaying boat becomes a new marine habitat, the sailor teaches the next generation (a child with hair in two Afro puffs) to fish. Focusing primarily on the sea, the book’s earth-toned illustrations, created with hundreds of stamps, carry the compelling plot.

A quiet, thought-provoking story of environmental change and the power humans have to slow it. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-324-00517-9

Page Count: 56

Publisher: Norton Young Readers

Review Posted Online: Dec. 25, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2021

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