A tale of plucky poultry sure to inspire those who are afraid they may be too chicken to follow their dreams.

ZELDA'S BIG ADVENTURE

Zelda is a hen with a plan: “to be the first chicken in space.”

Zelda has already built her spaceship, planned the experiments she’ll carry out in space, and trained for weightlessness (by suspending herself from a tree limb). Now, all she needs is a little help from her friends. Walter the rooster won’t help with her spacesuit (he doesn’t sew!). Mike is too busy to help with the heat shielding. And Bella the hen does not “do DIY,” so she can’t help with the control panel. Zelda goes it alone; despite some difficulty counting backward at countdown, she blasts off into space! After a successful mission of weighing stardust and counting planets, she returns home to find that her friends claim partial credit for her success. Zelda’s not fazed…in fact, the stars were lonely; she plans to take some company on her next astral adventure. Australian duo Alafaci and McG have crafted a space-age “Little Red Hen” (who is white here), and even those who know the traditional tale will admire Zelda’s pluck and forgiving nature. McG’s burnished illustrations in a muted palette, full of barnyard tech and expressive chickens, pair well with Alafaci’s straightforward text.

A tale of plucky poultry sure to inspire those who are afraid they may be too chicken to follow their dreams. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 12, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-328-66081-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Clarion

Review Posted Online: May 24, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2017

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A visual feast teeming with life.

HAVE YOU EVER SEEN A FLOWER?

A young urbanite romps through floral fields and deep into a flower’s anatomy, exploring humanity’s connection to nature.

A solo car travels away from the dense, gray cityscape. Mountains rise up, full of pattern and light, before revealing a fluorescent field of flowers. A child bursts from the car across the page, neon-rainbow hair streaming in the wind, as both child and place radiate joy and life. The brown-skinned, blue-eyed youngster breathes in the meadow and begins an adventure—part Jamberry, part “Thumbelina,” and part existential journey as the child realizes the life force running through the veins of the flower is the same that runs through all of us, from the water that sustains to the sun that grows. Harris’ colored-pencil illustrations are full of energy and spontaneity. His use of patterning and graphic symbology evoke Oaxacan design, yet the style is all his own. The text is equally enthusiastic: “Have you ever seen / a flower so deep / you had to shout / HELLO / and listen for an echo / just to know / how deep it goes?” The text shifts abruptly from metaphor to metaphor, in one spread the flower likened to a palace and a few pages later, to human anatomy. Nevertheless, like the protagonist and the natural environment, readers will feel themselves stretch and bloom.

A visual feast teeming with life. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: May 4, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-4521-8270-4

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2021

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There’s nothing especially new here, but the good-natured celebration of books, reading, and libraries will charm fellow...

THE BOOK HOG

A porcine hoarder of books learns to read—and to share.

The Book Hog’s obsession is clear from the start. Short declarative sentences describe his enthusiasm (“The Book Hog loved books”), catalog the things he likes about the printed page, and eventually reveal his embarrassing secret (“He didn’t know how to read”). While the text is straightforward, plenty of amusing visual details will entertain young listeners. A picture of the Book Hog thumbing through a book while seated on the toilet should induce some giggles. The allusive name of a local bookshop (“Wilbur’s”) as well as the covers of a variety of familiar and much-loved books (including some of the author’s own) offer plenty to pore over. And the fact that the titles become legible only after our hero learns to read is a particularly nice touch. A combination of vignettes, single-page illustrations and double-page spreads that feature Pizzoli’s characteristic style—heavy black outlines, a limited palette of mostly salmon and mint green, and simple shapes—move the plot along briskly. Librarians will appreciate the positive portrayal of Miss Olive, an elephant who welcomes the Book Hog warmly to storytime, though it’s unlikely most will be able to match her superlative level of service.

There’s nothing especially new here, but the good-natured celebration of books, reading, and libraries will charm fellow bibliophiles, and the author’s fans will enjoy making another anthropomorphic animal friend. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 26, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-368-03689-4

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Nov. 12, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2018

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