Warm, inviting nonfiction, especially for those new to the genre.

PLAY IN THE WILD

HOW BABY ANIMALS LIKE TO HAVE FUN

As is true with tiny humans, play is important in young animals’ development.

Judge looks closely at 27 different animals and the playful habits of their young. Sometimes play helps animals learn how to forage and hunt. Other times, it can be practice for following rules. For some, it can even mean survival. Each subtopic is allotted two double-page spreads. In a dramatic setup scene, a large, bold statement declares an observation, such as: “Many young animals ask first before playing.” Judge depicts one young chimp approaching another that is cradled in mom’s embrace. A smattering of vignettes follows in the next spread. “A young chimpanzee swings his head and shoulders from side to side….That is his way of asking his friend, ‘Do you want to play with me?’ ” However, a sea lion pup “approaches another while holding a piece of kelp that serves as a toy, then quickly swims away.” Kids will delight in comparing their own actions to those of the baby animals. The variety is also impressive: Red river hogs cavort in these pages, along with bottlenose dolphins and wallaby joeys. Judge’s realistic illustrations are both endearing and expressive. Energetic moments are expertly captured. Tufts of fur fly; young ones are caught midpounce or with trunks held high, sending water splashing. The most appealing? The mischievous gleam of fun in everyone’s eyes.

Warm, inviting nonfiction, especially for those new to the genre. (additional facts, glossary, sources, recommended websites) (Informational picture book. 3-8)

Pub Date: June 30, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-23706-4

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Roaring Brook Press

Review Posted Online: April 8, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2020

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Lovely illustrations wasted on this misguided project.

LUNAR NEW YEAR

From the Celebrate the World series

The Celebrate the World series spotlights Lunar New Year.

This board book blends expository text and first-person-plural narrative, introducing readers to the holiday. Chau’s distinctive, finely textured watercolor paintings add depth, transitioning smoothly from a grand cityscape to the dining room table, from fantasies of the past to dumplings of the present. The text attempts to provide a broad look at the subject, including other names for the celebration, related cosmology, and historical background, as well as a more-personal discussion of traditions and practices. Yet it’s never clear who the narrator is—while the narrative indicates the existence of some consistent, monolithic group who participates in specific rituals of celebration (“Before the new year celebrations begin, we clean our homes—and ourselves!”), the illustrations depict different people in every image. Indeed, observances of Lunar New Year are as diverse as the people who celebrate it, which neither the text nor the images—all of the people appear to be Asian—fully acknowledges. Also unclear is the book’s intended audience. With large blocks of explication on every spread, it is entirely unappealing for the board-book set, and the format may make it equally unattractive to an older, more appropriate audience. Still, readers may appreciate seeing an important celebration warmly and vibrantly portrayed.

Lovely illustrations wasted on this misguided project. (Board book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Dec. 11, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5344-3303-8

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Little Simon/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Dec. 5, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2019

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Amid inconsistencies of format and information, the illustrations end up giving the most clarity about this festival.

DIWALI

From the Celebrate the World series

Diwali, the festival of lights, a five-day celebration that has many different forms, is celebrated in different ways across India and in many other countries.

This board book cursorily presents the different rituals associated with this celebration of the Hindu New Year, including getting the house ready to welcome Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth; decorating the house with rangoli and diyas; and celebrating with family, friends, fireworks, and good food. The text is simple and gives only very basic information. “On the fifth and final day of Diwali, we celebrate brothers and sisters. The lifelong bond between siblings is special, and we honor that.” The illustrations show four different sets of siblings celebrating each other in different ways, none of which are mentioned in the text, making it difficult for younger readers to understand the complexity of the celebration. Sreenivasan’s illustrations are colorful, detailed, and authentic, and they carry the book. They feature happy and smiling dark-haired people with a range of skin tones, diverse in ethnicity and dress. In bright, vivid colors, intergenerational families and friends from different regions come alive, dressed up in their colorful best, celebrating and enjoying the festival together in different ways. The board format of this title does not match the age range and conceptual level of the text.

Amid inconsistencies of format and information, the illustrations end up giving the most clarity about this festival. (Board book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 28, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5344-1990-2

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Little Simon/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Sept. 2, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2019

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