A sweet little nugget of a story

PEDRO'S PAN

A GOLD RUSH 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. 26, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2018

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Sweet fare for bed- or naptimes, with a light frosting of natural history.

WOODLAND DREAMS

A sonorous, soporific invitation to join woodland creatures in bedding down for the night.

As in her Moon Babies, illustrated by Amy Hevron (2019), Jameson displays a rare gift for harmonious language and rhyme. She leads off with a bear: “Come home, Big Paws. / Berry picker / Honey trickster / Shadows deepen in the glen. / Lumber back inside your den.” Continuing in the same pattern, she urges a moose (“Velvet Nose”), a deer (“Tiny Hooves”), and a succession of ever smaller creatures to find their nooks and nests as twilight deepens in Boutavant’s woodsy, autumnal scenes and snow begins to drift down. Through each of those scenes quietly walks an alert White child (accompanied by an unusually self-controlled pooch), peering through branches or over rocks at the animals in the foregrounds and sketching them in a notebook. The observer’s turn comes round at last, as a bearded parent beckons: “This way, Small Boots. / Brave trailblazer / Bright stargazer / Cabin’s toasty. Blanket’s soft. / Snuggle deep in sleeping loft.” The animals go unnamed, leaving it to younger listeners to identify each one from the pictures…if they can do so before the verses’ murmurous tempo closes their eyes.

Sweet fare for bed- or naptimes, with a light frosting of natural history. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Oct. 27, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4521-7063-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: Sept. 1, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2020

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Inspiring, adventurous fun for aspirational kids.

SADIE SPROCKET BUILDS A ROCKET

A little girl’s imaginative plan to become an astronaut and be the first to travel to Mars really takes off.

Together with a crew of stuffed animals (owl, rabbit, and teddy bear), Sadie Sprocket does her research, gathers materials to build her spaceship, and, with support from family and friends—and media coverage—embarks on her historic journey. Rhyming quatrains tell the story of how Sadie patiently reads, cooks, and records important data during the 100-day interplanetary journey. And then: “The Earth behind, so far away, / was now a tiny dot. / Then Sadie cried, ‘There’s planet Mars! / It’s smaller than I thought!’ ” After landing and gathering 20 bags of samples, Sadie and crew are stuck in a red sandstorm while trying to take off again. But with Sadie’s determination and can-do spirit, they blast off, safely returning to Earth with future heroic space-exploration ideas in mind. Spiky cartoons transform a child’s playroom into an outer-space venue, complete with twinkling stars and colorful planets. Sadie presents White while her encouraging fans feature more diversity. An addendum includes brief facts about Mars and a handful of women space scientists. (This book was reviewed digitally with 11-by-17-inch double-page spreads viewed at 50% of actual size.)

Inspiring, adventurous fun for aspirational kids. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5420-1803-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Two Lions

Review Posted Online: Nov. 18, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

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