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Visually distinctive, but a little disingenuous in its approach to the science that underlies it.

This charming if superficial story follows two little birds from the moment they burst from their shells.

They feed, frolic and grow. One night, they look up to see a great flock of migrating birds, and anxious not to be left behind, they decide to join them. They encounter thunderstorms, power lines and other perils along the way, but after a grueling flight over the ocean, they land, exhausted, in a new country and find themselves in the warm sunlight, surrounded by tropical vegetation. All around them are other little birds, feasting on the strange plants and insects, flitting about and enjoying the company of the other migrants. Soon, however, their instincts tell them it is time to leave and make the perilous journey back home, where the process starts all over again, with mating, nest building and laying eggs. DePalma’s gentle illustrations make use of a skillful blend of acrylics and torn–tissue-paper collage, overlaid on canvas so the visibility of the painted fabric adds interest and variety to the illustrations. While attractively produced, the text is somewhat perfunctory and lacks informative detail. Questions curious children might wish to ask about the science of migration and birds’ life cycles remain unanswered, though an afterword discloses that DePalma bases her tale on orchard orioles and their annual migration to and from the Yucatán.

Visually distinctive, but a little disingenuous in its approach to the science that underlies it. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Feb. 14, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-8028-5421-6

Page Count: 34

Publisher: Eerdmans

Review Posted Online: Dec. 17, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2014

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Echoes of Runaway Bunny color this exchange between a bath-averse piglet and his patient mother. Using a strategy that would probably be a nonstarter in real life, the mother deflects her stubborn offspring’s string of bath-free occupational conceits with appeals to reason: “Pirates NEVER EVER take baths!” “Pirates don’t get seasick either. But you do.” “Yeesh. I’m an astronaut, okay?” “Well, it is hard to bathe in zero gravity. It’s hard to poop and pee in zero gravity too!” And so on, until Mom’s enticing promise of treasure in the deep sea persuades her little Treasure Hunter to take a dive. Chunky figures surrounded by lots of bright white space in Segal’s minimally detailed watercolors keep the visuals as simple as the plotline. The language isn’t quite as basic, though, and as it rendered entirely in dialogue—Mother Pig’s lines are italicized—adult readers will have to work hard at their vocal characterizations for it to make any sense. Moreover, younger audiences (any audiences, come to that) may wonder what the piggy’s watery closing “EUREKA!!!” is all about too. Not particularly persuasive, but this might coax a few young porkers to get their trotters into the tub. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: March 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-399-25425-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: Jan. 25, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2011

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Too many bugs, figuratively.

Lucy, “the youngest member of a family of fireflies,” must overcome an irrational, moon-induced anxiety in order to leave her family tree trunk and glow.

The first six pages pull readers into a lush, beautiful world of nighttime: “When the sun has set, silence falls over the Big Forest, and all of the nighttime animals wake up.” Mixed media provide an enchanting forest background, with stylized flora and fauna eventually illuminated by a large, benign moon, because the night “doesn’t like to catch them by surprise.” Turning the page catches readers by surprise, though: the family of fireflies is decidedly comical and silly-looking. Similarly, the text moves from a lulling, magical cadence to a distinct shift in mood as the bugs ready themselves for their foray into the night: “They wave their bottoms in the air, wiggle their feelers, take a deep, deep breath, and sing, ‘Here we go, it’s time to glow!’ ” It’s an acceptable change, but more unevenness follows. Lucy’s excitement about finally joining the other bugs turns to “sobbing” two nights in a row. Instead of directly linking her behavior to understandable reactions of children to newness, the text undermines itself by making Lucy’s parents’ sweet reassurances impotent and using the grandmother’s scientific explanation of moonlight as an unnecessary metaphor. Further detracting from the story, the text becomes ever denser and more complex over the book’s short span.

Too many bugs, figuratively. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Nov. 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-84-16147-00-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Cuento de Luz

Review Posted Online: July 21, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2015

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