A simple message delivered effectively.

READ REVIEW

ONLY A TREE KNOWS HOW TO BE A TREE

A celebration of the uniqueness of trees—and birds, dogs, fish, the planet Earth, the universe, and each human being.

What makes this feel-good reflection on individuality stand out are the illustrations, childlike in their presentation but surprisingly detailed—especially the images of children of all colors, from peach and pink to tan and deep brown. Some are in ethnic dress, and some use wheelchairs or wear glasses. Picture readers can spend a lot of time looking at what they do: A child climbs a tree; another pretends to be a bird; children jump rope, blow bubbles, or simply talk with a friend; a child meditates; another carries an infant; and much, much more. Murphy begins by talking about things trees do: “turn sunshine into tree food,” change color, and shelter birds and animals. She goes on to birds, dogs, and fish, and then she widens her view to encompass the whole planet, “where we live,” and the entire universe before making her point: “Every comet, flower, cat, and beetle, every cloud, frog, stone, and duck, every mountain, river, and deer is different.” With the exception of the depiction of outer space, every spread includes at least one child. The simple text has been hand lettered, and the painterly illustrations include interesting dry textures. Even though many illustrations include tiny details, this will work well for groups as well as one-on-one.

A simple message delivered effectively. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: March 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5362-1470-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Nov. 10, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2019

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For readers who haven’t a musk ox of their own to snuggle up with, this tale proves just as cozy.

COZY

An agreeable Alaskan musk ox embodies that old Ben Franklin adage, “Guests, like fish, begin to smell after three days.”

When Cozy the ox is separated from his herd in the midst of a winter storm, he decides to wait it out. His massive size and warmth attract small animals—a lemming family and a snowshoe hare—desperate to escape the cold. However, as bigger, predatory creatures arrive, Cozy must lay down some “house rules” that grow with each new creature that arrives until they extend to: “Quiet voices, gentle thumping, claws to yourself, no biting, no pouncing, and be mindful of others!” Over time, the guests grow antsy, but at last spring arrives and Cozy can find his family. The tale is not dissimilar to another Jan Brett tale of cold weather and animals squeezing into a small space (The Mitten, 1989). Meticulous watercolors refrain from anthropomorphizing, rendering everyone, from massive Cozy to the tiniest of lemmings, in exquisite detail. This moving tale of gentle kindness serves as a clarion call for anyone searching for a book about creating your own community in times of trial. Brett even includes little details about real musk oxen in the text (such as their tendency to form protective circles to surround their vulnerable young), but readers hoping for further information in any backmatter will be disappointed. (This book was reviewed digitally with 8.4-by-20.6-inch double-page spreads viewed at 37.3% of actual size.)

For readers who haven’t a musk ox of their own to snuggle up with, this tale proves just as cozy. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Oct. 20, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-10979-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2020

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Earnest and silly by turns, it doesn’t quite capture the attention or the imagination, although surely its heart is in the...

ROSIE REVERE, ENGINEER

Rhymed couplets convey the story of a girl who likes to build things but is shy about it. Neither the poetry nor Rosie’s projects always work well.

Rosie picks up trash and oddments where she finds them, stashing them in her attic room to work on at night. Once, she made a hat for her favorite zookeeper uncle to keep pythons away, and he laughed so hard that she never made anything publicly again. But when her great-great-aunt Rose comes to visit and reminds Rosie of her own past building airplanes, she expresses her regret that she still has not had the chance to fly. Great-great-aunt Rose is visibly modeled on Rosie the Riveter, the iconic, red-bandanna–wearing poster woman from World War II. Rosie decides to build a flying machine and does so (it’s a heli-o-cheese-copter), but it fails. She’s just about to swear off making stuff forever when Aunt Rose congratulates her on her failure; now she can go on to try again. Rosie wears her hair swooped over one eye (just like great-great-aunt Rose), and other figures have exaggerated hairdos, tiny feet and elongated or greatly rounded bodies. The detritus of Rosie’s collections is fascinating, from broken dolls and stuffed animals to nails, tools, pencils, old lamps and possibly an erector set. And cheddar-cheese spray.

Earnest and silly by turns, it doesn’t quite capture the attention or the imagination, although surely its heart is in the right place. (historical note) (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-4197-0845-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2013

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