Helpful groundbreaking for budding gardeners, despite moving parts that are far from toddler-proof.

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MAISY GROWS A GARDEN

From the Maisy First Science Book series

Not Maisy’s first garden but perhaps her most bountiful.

With assists from pull tabs, Maisy digs, plants, waters, weeds and finally harvests a vegetable garden (with help from Panda, who also plants sunflower seeds). Like the snail, earthworm and various insects that look on, children will smile as seedlings rise from the rich, chocolate-brown earth—putting down visible roots, too. With proper care, they turn into carrots and lettuce, clusters of green beans and ripe tomatoes hanging beneath lush greenery. A topical glossary to the left of each growing scene introduces words like “watering can” and “dandelion.” Kicking off her muddy boots in the final spread, Maisy leans back to enjoy the fruits of her labor and admire the sunflowers that unfold atop tall stems: “How beautiful the plants are!”

Helpful groundbreaking for budding gardeners, despite moving parts that are far from toddler-proof. (Pop up/picture book. 3-4)

Pub Date: Feb. 26, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-7636-6242-4

Page Count: 16

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Sept. 25, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2013

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An inclusive view of an ever popular career option that’s sturdy enough to survive repeated alarms.

FIREHOUSE

PLAY-GO-ROUND

A firehouse that sets up in the round, with cutout doors and windows plus push-out firefighters and a ready-to-assemble truck.

The three detachable firefighters (along with the rather stubby truck and assorted equipment) join a large and distinctly diverse crew in simply rendered firehouse scenes that depict training, exercise, going out on a call, and then cleaning up afterward. Along with being a nearly equal mix of male and female (implied by hairstyle), the stylized figures bear skin colors ranging from pink through at least two shades of brown, hair in several different colors and styles, and, in a couple of cases, broad Asian features. The trucks on view don’t look much like real ones, and some topical drift shows up on the last page, in which the supposed “firefighters” are actually a uniformed ambulance crew, patching up a child who has fallen off a bike. Still, everyone in sight is busily at work, and the “Fire Rescue!” scene is dramatic without being scarily so.

An inclusive view of an ever popular career option that’s sturdy enough to survive repeated alarms. (Novelty board book. 3-4)

Pub Date: Sept. 6, 2016

ISBN: 979-1-02760-196-7

Page Count: 12

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2016

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A multilayered, endearing treasure of a day.

MY DAY WITH GONG GONG

Spending a day with Gong Gong doesn’t sound like very much fun to May.

Gong Gong doesn’t speak English, and May doesn’t know Chinese. How can they have a good day together? As they stroll through an urban Chinatown, May’s perpetually sanguine maternal grandfather chats with friends and visits shops. At each stop, Cantonese words fly back and forth, many clearly pointed at May, who understands none of it. It’s equally exasperating trying to communicate with Gong Gong in English, and by the time they join a card game in the park with Gong Gong’s friends, May is tired, hungry, and frustrated. But although it seems like Gong Gong hasn’t been attentive so far, when May’s day finally comes to a head, it is clear that he has. First-person text gives glimpses into May’s lively thoughts as they evolve through the day, and Gong Gong’s unchangingly jolly face reflects what could be mistaken for blithe obliviousness but is actually his way of showing love through sharing the people and places of his life. Through adorable illustrations that exude humor and warmth, this portrait of intergenerational affection is also a tribute to life in Chinatown neighborhoods: Street vendors, a busker playing a Chinese violin, a dim sum restaurant, and more all combine to add a distinctive texture. 

A multilayered, endearing treasure of a day. (glossary) (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 8, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-77321-429-0

Page Count: 36

Publisher: Annick Press

Review Posted Online: June 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2020

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While the information is solid and simply presented, and the photos are eye-catching, the layout gets in the way of clarity....

AT THE ZOO

From the Seek and Peek series

This introduction to zoology features a cover of layered, bubble-shaped pages of various sizes, each with an image of a zoo animal peeking through.

Once a page is turned, bright stock photos of animals with similar characteristics or from the same genus are grouped together across the spread, united by a solid background color. A heading introduces them (such as “Gone fishing” for seafood-eating birds and mammals), and one or two simple facts are shared. The creatures themselves provide additional and more specific information via speech bubbles. One section of each spread still retains the image that is visible from the cover and hints at what is coming next on the verso. Unfortunately, this Seek and Peek gimmick of shaped pages creates a visually confusing layout. In the “Burly bears” section, for example, all of the creatures on the page are bears (brown bear, polar bear and panda), but a maned lion and his cub do appear in their own section of the page against a different background. In the Rainforest, another in the series, featuring a variety of rain forest dwellers from around the world, also suffers from layout issues. The final page explains that some animals live high in the trees while others live on the rain forest floor, but the critters’ haphazard placement doesn’t support the point. Dinosaurs, yet another Seek and Peek book, uses photorealistic, computer-generated images of dinosaurs from various eras. Prehistoric creatures are grouped in such categories as “Scary hunters,” “Speedy” and more. The Seek and Peek format serves this topic most poorly, since some of the page sizes will confuse readers as to the size and scale of the subjects (the largest dinosaurs, brachiosaurus and diplodocus, are on the medium-sized pages at the middle of the book, which dwarf these creatures’ stature).

While the information is solid and simply presented, and the photos are eye-catching, the layout gets in the way of clarity. Stick with Kingfisher’s Baby Animals series for zoology in board-book form. (Board book. 3-4)

Pub Date: May 21, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-7534-6941-5

Page Count: 8

Publisher: Kingfisher

Review Posted Online: May 15, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2013

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