A sweet little nugget of a story

Lasley brings to life a gold rush story from his home state of Alaska in this charming debut picture book.

Lasley bucks expectations for a historical fiction narrative by presenting the story of the prospector Felice “Pedro” Pedroni, an Italian immigrant to Alaska, through the perspective of his trusty gold pan: “Pan for short.” The upbeat narrative somewhat downplays the difficulties of life as a gold prospector in the early 20th century. From braving the harsh elements to always being on the lookout for wild animals, Pan is game for any adventures Pedro brings him on. Above all, Pan takes his work looking for gold very seriously and shares his owner’s disappointment when their day’s work proves fruitless. Though the story is humorous and the protagonist playful, there is some meaty geology and history to be mined within, including information on iron pyrite (aka fool’s gold: “Drat!”) and how to pan for gold. Souva’s illustrations employ geometric shapes and a muted palette, investing Pan with appealing personality via eyebrows, eyes, and mouth. Backmatter expands upon the story for readers curious to know more. While the book is sure to appeal to educators, especially those teaching about the various gold rushes in western American history, the amusing adventures of Pan and Pedro hold broad appeal for read-alouds with many and varied audiences beyond the classroom.

A sweet little nugget of a story . (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Feb. 19, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5132-6187-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Alaska Northwest Books

Review Posted Online: Nov. 25, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2018


Share this feel-good title with those who love art and those who can appreciate the confidence-building triumph of solving a...

Reynolds returns to a favorite topic—creative self-expression—with characteristic skill in a companion title to The Dot (2003) and Ish (2004).

Marisol is “an artist through and through. So when her teacher told her class they were going to paint a mural…, Marisol couldn’t wait to begin.” As each classmate claims a part of the picture to paint, Marisol declares she will “paint the sky.” But she soon discovers there is no blue paint and wonders what she will do without the vital color. Up to this point, the author uses color sparingly—to accent a poster or painting of Marisol’s or to highlight the paint jars on a desk. During her bus ride home, Marisol wonders what to do and stares out the window. The next spread reveals a vibrant departure from the gray tones of the previous pages. Reds, oranges, lemon yellows and golds streak across the sunset sky. Marisol notices the sky continuing to change in a rainbow of colors…except blue. After awakening from a colorful dream to a gray rainy day, Marisol smiles. With a fervent mixing of paints, she creates a beautiful swirling sky that she describes as “sky color.” Fans of Reynolds will enjoy the succinct language enhanced by illustrations in pen, ink, watercolor, gouache and tea.

Share this feel-good title with those who love art and those who can appreciate the confidence-building triumph of solving a problem on one’s own—creatively. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Aug. 28, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-7636-2345-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: June 19, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2012


A quiet, warm look at the bond between grandfather and grandson.

After a visit, an African-American grandfather and grandson say farewell under a big yellow moon. Granpa tells Max it is the same moon he will see when he gets home.

This gently told story uses Max’s fascination with the moon’s ability to “tag along” where his family’s car goes as a metaphor for his grandfather’s constant love. Separating the two relatives is “a swervy-curvy road” that travels up and down hills, over a bridge, “past a field of sleeping cows,” around a small town and through a tunnel. No matter where Max travels, the moon is always there, waiting around a curve or peeking through the trees. But then “[d]ark clouds tumbled across the night sky.” No stars, no nightingales and no moon are to be found. Max frets: “Granpa said it would always shine for me.” Disappointed, Max climbs into bed, missing both the moon and his granpa. In a dramatic double-page spread, readers see Max’s excitement as “[s]lowly, very slowly, Max’s bedroom began to fill with a soft yellow glow.” Cooper uses his signature style to illustrate both the landscape—sometimes viewed from the car windows or reflected in the vehicle’s mirror—and the expressive faces of his characters. Coupled with the story’s lyrical text, this is a lovely mood piece.

A quiet, warm look at the bond between grandfather and grandson. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: June 13, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-399-23342-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: March 12, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2013

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