SPRING’S SPRUNG

The spring season gets a treatment of its own, following autumn (Wild Child, 1999) and winter (Winter Waits, 2001) from the same author/illustrator team. As before, the verse and illustrations personify the seasonal players. In this case, Mother Earth wakes her daughters, the spring sisters of March, April, and May, saying, “You must wake the world / to start a new day.” At the end, they must wake one more: summer. But before they awaken anyone, the three girls bicker and vie for first place in Mother Earth’s affections. After she affirms “I love you ALL the best,” the daughters are ready to wake the earth and “Spring’s Sprung! / A new day’s begun.” The insouciant mixing of months, seasons, and days may not bother preschoolers, but adults may notice. Nonetheless, the tone is lighthearted and fresh, appropriate to its season. Illustrations, as in the previous books, are liquid acrylic and colored pencil on museum board. Mother Earth’s form emerges from the earth’s topography while the daughters are portrayed as free-standing girls with many visual allusions to their physical ties to the earth, such as hair that flows into a river or curls into mounds of bushes. The colors are pastel, and there is much that is a fresh, new green. Touches of flowers and familiar mother-and-baby animals (such as bunnies and ducks) dot the backgrounds. There is a distinct New Age flavor to both story and illustrations. The large, vertical format is equally suitable for storytime or individual readings. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: March 1, 2002

ISBN: 0-689-84229-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2002

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An entertaining, if light, addition to the growing shelf of celebrity-authored picture books.

BUSY BETTY

Actor and author Witherspoon makes her picture-book debut.

Betty, a light-skinned, bespectacled child with blond pigtails, was born busy. Constantly in motion, Betty builds big block towers, cartwheels around the house (underfoot, of course), and plays with the family’s “fantabulous” dog, Frank, who is stinky and dirty. That leads to a big, busy, bright idea that, predictably, caroms toward calamity yet drags along enough hilarity to be entertaining. With a little help from best friend Mae (light-skinned with dark hair), the catastrophe turns into a lucrative dog-washing business. Busy Betty is once again ready to rush off to the next big thing. Yan uses vivid, pastel colors for a spread of a group of diverse kids bringing their dogs to be washed, helping out, and having fun, while the grown-ups are muted and relegated to the background. Extreme angles in several of the illustrations effectively convey a sense of perpetual motion and heighten the story’s tension, drawing readers in. An especially effective, glitter-strewn spread portrays Frank looming large and seemingly running off the page while Betty looks on, stricken at the ensuing mess. Though it’s a familiar and easily resolved story, Witherspoon’s rollicking text never holds back, replete with amusing phrases such as “sweet cinnamon biscuits,” “bouncing biscuits,” and “busted biscuits.” As Betty says, “Being busy is a great way to be.” Young readers are sure to agree. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

An entertaining, if light, addition to the growing shelf of celebrity-authored picture books. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 4, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-46588-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Flamingo Books

Review Posted Online: July 13, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2022

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An invitation to wonder, imagine and look at everything (humans included) in a new way.

NOAH CHASES THE WIND

A young boy sees things a little differently than others.

Noah can see patterns in the dust when it sparkles in the sunlight. And if he puts his nose to the ground, he can smell the “green tang of the ants in the grass.” His most favorite thing of all, however, is to read. Noah has endless curiosity about how and why things work. Books open the door to those answers. But there is one question the books do not explain. When the wind comes whistling by, where does it go? Noah decides to find out. In a chase that has a slight element of danger—wind, after all, is unpredictable—Noah runs down streets, across bridges, near a highway, until the wind lifts him off his feet. Cowman’s gusty wisps show each stream of air turning a different jewel tone, swirling all around. The ribbons gently bring Noah home, setting him down under the same thinking tree where he began. Did it really happen? Worthington’s sensitive exploration leaves readers with their own set of questions and perhaps gratitude for all types of perspective. An author’s note mentions children on the autism spectrum but widens to include all who feel a little different.

An invitation to wonder, imagine and look at everything (humans included) in a new way. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: April 14, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-60554-356-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Redleaf Lane

Review Posted Online: Feb. 3, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2015

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