A prettily packaged bit of environmentalism for the youngest readers from a writing team of children’s health advocates.

EVERY BREATH WE TAKE

A BOOK ABOUT AIR

Sentences of large-print text and colorful stock photographs move from the ubiquity of air to pollution to fighting pollution.

After an upbeat foreword from actor Julianne Moore, who mentions, among other things, that “kids are smart,” it is a letdown to realize that most of the pages that follow are generalized truisms about air that only the youngest children may not have grasped—that air goes out “when a baby screams”; that all creatures and all plants need air; that wind is moving air; that air carries sounds and smells. The book then amps up the complexity with the statement that “air looks and smells bad when it is dirty. That’s called air pollution.” Nevertheless, an older child might enjoy reading the book to a younger one and explaining such photographs as one with solar panels and another showing a child using an inhaler. Both text and photographs are winners in terms of gender equality, multiculturalism, and ethnic diversity. After the final comparison of clean air to love, there are two pages with a little more specific information, such as a simple explanation of air’s composition and the cool fact that children take about twice as many breaths as adults. However, even here there are too many sentences reiterating the fact that clean air is important.

A prettily packaged bit of environmentalism for the youngest readers from a writing team of children’s health advocates. (Informational picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: March 8, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-58089-616-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Charlesbridge

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2016

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A good bet for the youngest bird-watchers.

MAMA BUILT A LITTLE NEST

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. 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2014

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A universal theme, developed in an unusually clean, simple presentation…and, at least, with no need for batteries.

TAP THE MAGIC TREE

Matheson invites readers to take an apple tree through a seasonal round using taps and page turns in place of touch-screens.

“There’s magic in this bare brown tree. / Tap it once. / Turn the page to see.” Making the resemblance to a tablet app even more apparent, the tissue-collage leaves, flowers and fruits that grow, mature and fall in succession on the scaffolding of branches “appear” following cued shakes, pats, blown breaths, claps and gestures as well as simple taps. The tree, suspended in white space on each spread, is all there is to see (until a pair of nesting bluebirds fly in at the end)—so that even very young children will easily follow its changes through spring, summer and winter dormancy to a fresh spring. Like the print version of Hervé Tullet’s Press Here (2011), from which this plainly takes its inspiration, the illusion of interactivity exercises a reader’s imagination in ways that digital media do not. Still, the overall result is more an imitation of an app than a creative use of ink, paper and physical design.

A universal theme, developed in an unusually clean, simple presentation…and, at least, with no need for batteries. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-06-227445-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Review Posted Online: May 29, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2013

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