Gorgeous cut-paper collage illustrations cannot outweigh the absence of a story.

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COUNTING ON FALL

From the Math in Nature series , Vol. 1

First in the Math in Nature series, this prompts readers to imagine animals and plants using numbers to count and arrange themselves.

“Would pronghorns pair up, / line up in a parade, / and prance across the prairie? // With toes like those, / do you suppose / raccoons can count on trouble?” The text attempts some rhythm and rhyme, but it is inconsistent and awkwardly forces the story to conform to the words. Each verse is followed by a separate text box that allows readers to practice a mathematical concept: Counting, ordinal numbers, groups of 10, skip counting, counting down from 10, and halves are among those addressed. Backmatter includes a brief paragraph of information about the featured flora and fauna, but it lacks an answer key. Barron’s artwork is lovely, each spread filled with natural colors, textures and 3-D scenery, but not all are particularly fall-ish. It can also be difficult to distinguish the items to be counted from the backgrounds and to put them into the correct groupings (don’t count across the gutter on the bat page, even though there’s no break in the line of bats!). Finally, Flatt’s conclusion—that nature does not "know" numbers—is just not scientifically accurate. Animals and plants may not count and arrange themselves by number, but that does not mean there is no math in nature.

Gorgeous cut-paper collage illustrations cannot outweigh the absence of a story. (Math picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-926973-36-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Owlkids Books

Review Posted Online: July 18, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2012

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Earnest and silly by turns, it doesn’t quite capture the attention or the imagination, although surely its heart is in the...

ROSIE REVERE, ENGINEER

Rhymed couplets convey the story of a girl who likes to build things but is shy about it. Neither the poetry nor Rosie’s projects always work well.

Rosie picks up trash and oddments where she finds them, stashing them in her attic room to work on at night. Once, she made a hat for her favorite zookeeper uncle to keep pythons away, and he laughed so hard that she never made anything publicly again. But when her great-great-aunt Rose comes to visit and reminds Rosie of her own past building airplanes, she expresses her regret that she still has not had the chance to fly. Great-great-aunt Rose is visibly modeled on Rosie the Riveter, the iconic, red-bandanna–wearing poster woman from World War II. Rosie decides to build a flying machine and does so (it’s a heli-o-cheese-copter), but it fails. She’s just about to swear off making stuff forever when Aunt Rose congratulates her on her failure; now she can go on to try again. Rosie wears her hair swooped over one eye (just like great-great-aunt Rose), and other figures have exaggerated hairdos, tiny feet and elongated or greatly rounded bodies. The detritus of Rosie’s collections is fascinating, from broken dolls and stuffed animals to nails, tools, pencils, old lamps and possibly an erector set. And cheddar-cheese spray.

Earnest and silly by turns, it doesn’t quite capture the attention or the imagination, although surely its heart is in the right place. (historical note) (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-4197-0845-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2013

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A welcome addition to autumnal storytelling—and to tales of traditional enemies overcoming their history.

THE SCARECROW

Ferry and the Fans portray a popular seasonal character’s unlikely friendship.

Initially, the protagonist is shown in his solitary world: “Scarecrow stands alone and scares / the fox and deer, / the mice and crows. / It’s all he does. It’s all he knows.” His presence is effective; the animals stay outside the fenced-in fields, but the omniscient narrator laments the character’s lack of friends or places to go. Everything changes when a baby crow falls nearby. Breaking his pole so he can bend, the scarecrow picks it up, placing the creature in the bib of his overalls while singing a lullaby. Both abandon natural tendencies until the crow learns to fly—and thus departs. The aabb rhyme scheme flows reasonably well, propelling the narrative through fall, winter, and spring, when the mature crow returns with a mate to build a nest in the overalls bib that once was his home. The Fan brothers capture the emotional tenor of the seasons and the main character in their panoramic pencil, ballpoint, and digital compositions. Particularly poignant is the close-up of the scarecrow’s burlap face, his stitched mouth and leaf-rimmed head conveying such sadness after his companion goes. Some adults may wonder why the scarecrow seems to have only partial agency, but children will be tuned into the problem, gratified by the resolution.

A welcome addition to autumnal storytelling—and to tales of traditional enemies overcoming their history. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-247576-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2019

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