ONLY A TREE KNOWS HOW TO BE A TREE

A simple message delivered effectively.

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. 9, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2019

I'LL LOVE YOU FOREVER

Parent-child love and affection, appealingly presented, with the added attraction of the seasonal content and lack of gender...

A polar-bear parent speaks poetically of love for a child.

A genderless adult and cub travel through the landscapes of an arctic year. Each of the softly rendered double-page paintings has a very different feel and color palette as the pair go through the seasons, walking through wintry ice and snow and green summer meadows, cavorting in the blue ocean, watching whales, and playing beside musk oxen. The rhymes of the four-line stanzas are not forced, as is the case too often in picture books of this type: “When cold, winter winds / blow the leaves far and wide, / You’ll cross the great icebergs / with me by your side.” On a dark, snowy night, the loving parent says: “But for now, cuddle close / while the stars softly shine. // I’ll always be yours, / and you’ll always be mine.” As the last illustration shows the pair curled up for sleep, young listeners will be lulled to sweet dreams by the calm tenor of the pictures and the words. While far from original, this timeless theme is always in demand, and the combination of delightful illustrations and poetry that scans well make this a good choice for early-childhood classrooms, public libraries, and one-on-one home read-alouds.

Parent-child love and affection, appealingly presented, with the added attraction of the seasonal content and lack of gender restrictions. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-68010-070-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Tiger Tales

Review Posted Online: July 1, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2017

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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