THE PUFFIN PROBLEM

This whimsical, intriguing, and perplexing puzzle provides an entertaining introduction to puffins.

When a coastal city in Newfoundland is mysteriously inundated with puffins, no one knows what to do until “someone small and smart” devises the perfect plan.

Suddenly, puffins are “popping up everywhere.” Could they be attracted to the city lights, the rows of colorful houses, or the seafood restaurants? Regardless, puffins appear downtown in “unexpected places.” Overhead and underfoot, puffins disturb traffic and businesses, make pets and pigeons uncomfortable, and generally interfere with “everyone’s fun.” People start collecting puffins, hoping to export them to a faraway place—maybe Iceland. Then a clever girl offers a plan to temporarily solve the “puffin problem.” Endnotes explain how the droll, spare, simple text fictionalizes an actual annual occurrence in St. John’s, when puffins become stranded on land. A “Some Fun Puffin Facts” section provides puffin miscellany. The equally droll, spare, and simple pencil-and-watercolor illustrations rely on judicious use of white space, precise lines, and flat colors to produce amusing, detailed drawings of city houses, streets, and businesses. Discerning readers must look carefully, however, to visually detect the tiny, neatly rendered, but quite distinctive puffins perched on rooftops, doorsteps, telephone booths, fountains, playground equipment, basketball hoops, soccer balls, and carousels.

This whimsical, intriguing, and perplexing puzzle provides an entertaining introduction to puffins. (notes) (Picture book. 3-8)

Pub Date: July 14, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-927917-14-5

Page Count: 44

Publisher: Running the Goat

Review Posted Online: April 16, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2017

CARPENTER'S HELPER

Renata’s wren encounter proves magical, one most children could only wish to experience outside of this lovely story.

A home-renovation project is interrupted by a family of wrens, allowing a young girl an up-close glimpse of nature.

Renata and her father enjoy working on upgrading their bathroom, installing a clawfoot bathtub, and cutting a space for a new window. One warm night, after Papi leaves the window space open, two wrens begin making a nest in the bathroom. Rather than seeing it as an unfortunate delay of their project, Renata and Papi decide to let the avian carpenters continue their work. Renata witnesses the birth of four chicks as their rosy eggs split open “like coats that are suddenly too small.” Renata finds at a crucial moment that she can help the chicks learn to fly, even with the bittersweet knowledge that it will only hasten their exits from her life. Rosen uses lively language and well-chosen details to move the story of the baby birds forward. The text suggests the strong bond built by this Afro-Latinx father and daughter with their ongoing project without needing to point it out explicitly, a light touch in a picture book full of delicate, well-drawn moments and precise wording. Garoche’s drawings are impressively detailed, from the nest’s many small bits to the developing first feathers on the chicks and the wall smudges and exposed wiring of the renovation. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10-by-20-inch double-page spreads viewed at actual size.)

Renata’s wren encounter proves magical, one most children could only wish to experience outside of this lovely story. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: March 16, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-12320-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Schwartz & Wade/Random

Review Posted Online: Jan. 12, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2021

SLUG IN LOVE

Sweet, reassuring fun—and a story to fully embrace.

A slug longs for a hug and finds it unexpectedly.

Doug the slug would really like a hug and plods on, seeking affection. But a caterpillar, bug, spider, and worm want no part of hugging a slug. They are just not feeling it (might they feel sluggish?), voicing their disdain in no uncertain terms with expressions like, “Grimy, slippy!” and “Squelchy, slimy!” What’s a slug to do? Undeterred, Doug keeps trying. He meets Gail, a snail with crimson lipstick and hip, red glasses; she happens to be as grimy and squelchy as he is, so he figures she is the hugger of his dreams. The two embark upon a madcap romantic courtship. Alas, Gail also draws the (slimy) line at hugging Doug. Finally, mournful Doug meets the best hugger and the true love of his life, proving there’s someone for everyone. This charmer will have readers rooting for Doug (and perhaps even wanting to hug him). Expressed in simple, jaunty verses that read and scan smoothly, the brief tale revolves around words that mainly rhyme with Doug and slug. Given that the story stretches vocabulary so well with regard to rhyming words, children can be challenged after a read-aloud session to offer up words that rhyme with slug and snail. The colorful and humorous illustrations are lively and cheerful; googly-eyed Doug is, like the other characters, entertaining and expressive. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Sweet, reassuring fun—and a story to fully embrace. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Dec. 14, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-66590-046-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Paula Wiseman/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Oct. 12, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2021

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