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TORTOISE AND HARE'S AMAZING RACE

A didactic mix of a folk tale and measurement.

Berkes combines the familiar fable with a look at measurement.

The two don’t always mix well. Henry Hare’s a braggart who’s always putting down Tess Tortoise, boasting that he can make it to the top of a hill before Tess can even reach the bottom. And just how far is that? “1,760 yards,” pedant Oliver Owl says. Freddy Frog restates it for everybody’s benefit: “That’s a whole mile!” “Or 5,280 feet. Tess could never do it!” gloats Henry. As the race gets underway, Henry is distracted by some butterflies at the one-eighth mark, lunch at the half-mile post, and a nap at the three-quarter point. Readers all know how the story ends: “Henry admitted in disgrace that slow and steady won the race!” Morrison’s Henry looks bedraggled and sad at the finish line, ears drooping, eyes shifting to gaze at the winner. Her artwork is stiff but realistic, save for occasional anthropomorphized items (a whistle, binoculars, a GPS) and the fact that animals that are usually predator and prey are friendly here. The "For Creative Minds" section in the backmatter provides readers with units of measurement and gives them an opportunity to tell what units they would use to measure 15 distances, practice comparisons, and put the animals from the story in order from largest to smallest.

A didactic mix of a folk tale and measurement. (Math picture book/folk tale. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-62855-635-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Arbordale Publishing

Review Posted Online: June 28, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2015

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MAMA BUILT A LITTLE NEST

A good bet for the youngest bird-watchers.

Echoing the meter of “Mary Had a Little Lamb,” Ward uses catchy original rhymes to describe the variety of nests birds create.

Each sweet stanza is complemented by a factual, engaging description of the nesting habits of each bird. Some of the notes are intriguing, such as the fact that the hummingbird uses flexible spider web to construct its cup-shaped nest so the nest will stretch as the chicks grow. An especially endearing nesting behavior is that of the emperor penguin, who, with unbelievable patience, incubates the egg between his tummy and his feet for up to 60 days. The author clearly feels a mission to impart her extensive knowledge of birds and bird behavior to the very young, and she’s found an appealing and attractive way to accomplish this. The simple rhymes on the left page of each spread, written from the young bird’s perspective, will appeal to younger children, and the notes on the right-hand page of each spread provide more complex factual information that will help parents answer further questions and satisfy the curiosity of older children. Jenkins’ accomplished collage illustrations of common bird species—woodpecker, hummingbird, cowbird, emperor penguin, eagle, owl, wren—as well as exotics, such as flamingoes and hornbills, are characteristically naturalistic and accurate in detail.

A good bet for the youngest bird-watchers.   (author’s note, further resources) (Informational picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 18, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4424-2116-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Beach Lane/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Jan. 3, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2014

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ASTRONAUT ANNIE

A solid, small step for diversifying STEM stories.

What does Annie want to be?

As career day approaches, Annie wants to keep her job choice secret until her family sees her presentation at school. Readers will figure it out, however, through the title and clues Tadgell incorporates into the illustrations. Family members make guesses about her ambitions that are tied to their own passions, although her brother watches as she completes her costume in a bedroom with a Mae Jemison poster, starry décor, and a telescope. There’s a celebratory mood at the culminating presentation, where Annie says she wants to “soar high through the air” like her basketball-playing mother, “explore faraway places” like her hiker dad, and “be brave and bold” like her baker grandmother (this feels forced, but oven mitts are part of her astronaut costume) so “the whole world will hear my exciting stories” like her reporter grandfather. Annie jumps off a chair to “BLAST OFF” in a small illustration superimposed on a larger picture depicting her floating in space with a reddish ground below. It’s unclear if Annie imagines this scene or if it’s her future-self exploring Mars, but either scenario fits the aspirational story. Backmatter provides further reading suggestions and information about the moon and four women astronauts, one of whom is Jemison. Annie and her family are all black.

A solid, small step for diversifying STEM stories. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 6, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-88448-523-0

Page Count: 36

Publisher: Tilbury House

Review Posted Online: Feb. 3, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2018

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