An absorbing reminder that we need never look far to see wild, beautiful nature.

READ REVIEW

HAWK RISING

A male red-tailed hawk leaves a nest full of hatchlings to scout a suburban neighborhood for prey.

Similar in tone, setting, and general course to Gianferrari’s Coyote Moon, illustrated by Bagram Ibatoulline (2016), the hawk’s hunt extends from sunrise to twilight as stretches of “kiting” or “perch-hunting” from atop a utility pole are punctuated by sudden—and, twice, unsuccessful—dives at small creatures, with a mobbing by crows between. Though subject to obtrusively poetic flights (“Dandelions ripple. / Oaks tremble. / Father Hawk perches / and searches”; and, more obscurely, two references to “Mars” rising “red in the sky”), the terse narrative vividly captures both the weary vigil’s length and its abrupt moments of mortal drama. Also, even though the text positions readers as “you,” one of a pair of brown-skinned siblings who watch from their porch and yard, the narrative is free of anthropomorphic language. Alternating the perspective from ground level to high overhead, Floca depicts the majestic raptor with painterly magnificence, giving its variegated plumage a soft, even shaggy look that renders the climactic flashes of its massive black talons positively electrifying. The hunt finally comes to a decisive but gore-free culmination with the hawk “grabbing” a squirrel and winging off to the nearby nest. The author closes with two pages of additional facts and leads to further information.

An absorbing reminder that we need never look far to see wild, beautiful nature. (Informational picture book. 6-9)

Pub Date: June 5, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-62672-096-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Roaring Brook

Review Posted Online: Feb. 19, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2018

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A lesson that never grows old, enacted with verve by two favorite friends

WAITING IS NOT EASY!

From the Elephant & Piggie series

Gerald the elephant learns a truth familiar to every preschooler—heck, every human: “Waiting is not easy!”

When Piggie cartwheels up to Gerald announcing that she has a surprise for him, Gerald is less than pleased to learn that the “surprise is a surprise.” Gerald pumps Piggie for information (it’s big, it’s pretty, and they can share it), but Piggie holds fast on this basic principle: Gerald will have to wait. Gerald lets out an almighty “GROAN!” Variations on this basic exchange occur throughout the day; Gerald pleads, Piggie insists they must wait; Gerald groans. As the day turns to twilight (signaled by the backgrounds that darken from mauve to gray to charcoal), Gerald gets grumpy. “WE HAVE WASTED THE WHOLE DAY!…And for WHAT!?” Piggie then gestures up to the Milky Way, which an awed Gerald acknowledges “was worth the wait.” Willems relies even more than usual on the slightest of changes in posture, layout and typography, as two waiting figures can’t help but be pretty static. At one point, Piggie assumes the lotus position, infuriating Gerald. Most amusingly, Gerald’s elephantine groans assume weighty physicality in spread-filling speech bubbles that knock Piggie to the ground. And the spectacular, photo-collaged images of the Milky Way that dwarf the two friends makes it clear that it was indeed worth the wait.

A lesson that never grows old, enacted with verve by two favorite friends . (Early reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 4, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4231-9957-1

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Nov. 5, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2014

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In spite of the book’s flaws, dragons are very appealing, and tales for young audiences that model the scientific method are...

DRAGONS AND MARSHMALLOWS

From the Zoey and Sassafras series , Vol. 1

Zoey discovers that she can see magical creatures that might need her help.

That’s a good thing because her mother has been caring for the various beasts since childhood, but now she’s leaving on a business trip so the work will fall to Zoey. Most people (like Zoey’s father) can’t see the magical creatures, so Zoey, who appears in illustrations to be black, will have to experiment with their care by problem-solving using the scientific method to determine appropriate treatment and feeding. When a tiny, sick dragon shows up on her doorstep, she runs an experiment and determines that marshmallows appear to be the proper food. Unfortunately, she hadn’t done enough research beforehand to understand that although dragons might like marshmallows, they might not be the best food for a sick, fire-breathing baby. Although the incorporation of important STEM behaviors is a plus, the exposition is mildly clunky, with little character development and stilted dialogue. Many pages are dense with large-print text, related in Zoey’s not especially childlike voice. However, the inclusion in each chapter of a couple of attractive black-and-white illustrations of round-faced people and Zoey’s mischievous cat helps break up the narrative.

In spite of the book’s flaws, dragons are very appealing, and tales for young audiences that model the scientific method are nice to see. (Fantasy. 6-9)

Pub Date: March 14, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-943147-08-3

Page Count: 96

Publisher: The Innovation Press

Review Posted Online: Dec. 19, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

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