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WHAT TO BRING

A straightforward and comforting exploration of an emergency evacuation.

How do you decide what’s most important?

Malia, a young girl with a dark brown bob, is playing in her sandbox near her mother and younger brother when she notices a cloud of smoke. Then a brown-skinned woman in a yellow vest stops by, Malia’s father comes home early from work, and it’s clear that something is wrong. A fire has broken out in the nearby hills, and the family is going to have to leave. Colorful, digitally rendered spreads show Malia in her warm and cozy home as the family packs. Malia wants to bring something, too, but she can’t decide what to choose—her sandbox, her favorite stuffed animals, tons of books? Daddy suggests, “Pick small toys. Things important to you.” Mama limits her to three things and tells her, “Put the rest in your heart.” The text doesn’t share Malia’s choices, but we see her two favorite stuffed animals peeking out of her backpack. And as Malia walks from the car to Grandpa’s house, the accompanying image, of her family in silhouette, makes it clear what the most vital thing of all is. Reassuring to children facing a similar situation, this selection also offers a subtle, heartfelt message to all about the importance of family that young listeners can discuss. Malia and her family are tan-skinned. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A straightforward and comforting exploration of an emergency evacuation. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: March 14, 2023

ISBN: 978-1-77147-490-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Owlkids Books

Review Posted Online: Nov. 15, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2022

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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

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HOW TO CATCH A MAMASAURUS

From the How To Catch… series

A syrupy tribute to mothers that may please fans of the series.

Another creature is on the loose.

The long-running series continues its successful formula with this Hallmark card of a book, which features bright illustrations and catchy rhymes. This time, the mythical creature the racially diverse children set out to catch is an absent mom who does it all (lists of descriptors include the words banker, caregiver, nurse, doctor, driver, chef, housekeeper, teacher, entertainer, playmate, laundry service, problem solver, handywoman, cleaner, and alarm clock) but doesn’t seem to have a job outside the home and is inexplicably a dinosaur. As the children prepare gifts and a meal for her, the text becomes an ode to the skills the Mamasaurus possesses (“Day or night she’s always there. / She meets every wish and need”) and values she instills (“Sometimes life can mean hard work,” “kindness matters,” and “what counts is doing your best”). This well-intentioned selection veers into cliche generously sprinkled with saccharine but manages to redeem itself with its appreciation for mothers and all that they may do. Endpapers include a “to” and “from” page framed in a heart, as well as a page where young gift givers or recipients can draw a picture of their Mamasaurus.

A syrupy tribute to mothers that may please fans of the series. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: March 5, 2024

ISBN: 9781728274300

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Sourcebooks Wonderland

Review Posted Online: Dec. 6, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2024

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