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Nature offers up marvelous surprises at every turn—even via a humble puddle teeming with life.

Who knew there was so much to see and hear in a puddle?

Two Asian-presenting siblings visit a vernal pool in “the deep, damp forest” through the seasons and are awestruck by the natural wonders they discover. What’s a vernal pool, you ask? As the author’s note explains, it’s a wetland habitat that forms “in shallow dips in the land,” in places with seasonal climates; such areas shelter a variety of plants and animal species throughout the year. In short, over the course of a year, a vernal pool is a busy, noisy circle of life. The children share their finds in lilting verse, and readers will be delighted at these wondrous explorations. Look at some of what the kids find in and around this astonishing place when they return season after season: frogs and toads, ducks, shrimp, salamanders, turtles, butterflies, foxes, deer—and much more! The gorgeous, textured, naturalistic, collagelike artwork bursts with life and realistic colors, and readers will enjoy closely examining the illustrations as animals and plants are enumerated; a chart at the end of the book helps readers identify the wildlife in this beautifully realized story. Grown-ups may wish to help curious readers investigate whether there are vernal pools near where they live.

Nature offers up marvelous surprises at every turn—even via a humble puddle teeming with life. (Informational picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: March 12, 2024

ISBN: 9781771475310

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Owlkids Books

Review Posted Online: Feb. 3, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2024

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Though told by two outsiders to the culture, this timely and well-crafted story will educate readers on the preciousness of...

An international story tackles a serious global issue with Reynolds’ characteristic visual whimsy.

Gie Gie—aka Princess Gie Gie—lives with her parents in Burkina Faso. In her kingdom under “the African sky, so wild and so close,” she can tame wild dogs with her song and make grass sway, but despite grand attempts, she can neither bring the water closer to home nor make it clean. French words such as “maintenant!” (now!) and “maman” (mother) and local color like the karite tree and shea nuts place the story in a French-speaking African country. Every morning, Gie Gie and her mother perch rings of cloth and large clay pots on their heads and walk miles to the nearest well to fetch murky, brown water. The story is inspired by model Georgie Badiel, who founded the Georgie Badiel Foundation to make clean water accessible to West Africans. The details in Reynolds’ expressive illustrations highlight the beauty of the West African landscape and of Princess Gie Gie, with her cornrowed and beaded hair, but will also help readers understand that everyone needs clean water—from the children of Burkina Faso to the children of Flint, Michigan.

Though told by two outsiders to the culture, this timely and well-crafted story will educate readers on the preciousness of potable water. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 13, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-399-17258-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 17, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2016

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A retro-futuristic romp, literally and figuratively screwy.

Robo-parents Diode and Lugnut present daughter Cathode with a new little brother—who requires, unfortunately, some assembly.

Arriving in pieces from some mechanistic version of Ikea, little Flange turns out to be a cute but complicated tyke who immediately falls apart…and then rockets uncontrollably about the room after an overconfident uncle tinkers with his basic design. As a squad of helpline techies and bevies of neighbors bearing sludge cake and like treats roll in, the cluttered and increasingly crowded scene deteriorates into madcap chaos—until at last Cath, with help from Roomba-like robodog Sprocket, stages an intervention by whisking the hapless new arrival off to a backyard workshop for a proper assembly and software update. “You’re such a good big sister!” warbles her frazzled mom. Wiesner’s robots display his characteristic clean lines and even hues but endearingly look like vaguely anthropomorphic piles of random jet-engine parts and old vacuum cleaners loosely connected by joints of armored cable. They roll hither and thither through neatly squared-off panels and pages in infectiously comical dismay. Even the end’s domestic tranquility lasts only until Cathode spots the little box buried in the bigger one’s packing material: “TWINS!” (This book was reviewed digitally with 9-by-22-inch double-page spreads viewed at 52% of actual size.)

A retro-futuristic romp, literally and figuratively screwy. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-544-98731-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Clarion Books

Review Posted Online: June 2, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2020

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