A gorgeous, breathtaking experience.

I AM THE WIND

The wind travels the world meeting creatures in their habitats on five continents.

This powerful, omniscient force narrates its own adventures. First felt whisking up leaves and turning umbrellas inside out on an autumn day in a city, the wind quickly moves on to fly with a barred owl through “frost and fog” before continuing northward to frolic with a wolverine in high, snowy mountain peaks, then racing with wolves as they chase their prey. Across day and night, mountains and valleys, the wind sleeps with musk ox and blows beneath northern lights with reindeer. In each place wind has an effect on the wildlife it meets: “whistling” across a snow leopard’s ledge in the highlands, delighting chimps in a storm in Congo, helping migratory geese on their journey, boosting petrels as they fly above the sea, flitting high in the clouds with an olinguito, or stirring up puddles in the bayou to startle gopher frogs. Karg gives voice to the wind in lovely, poetic language and syntax, following each encounter with the bold, assertive title statement, “I AM THE WIND.” Each creature, whether familiar or obscure, and each location is seen in a double-page spread with beautiful, light-filled, mesmerizing illustrations that are at once accurate and ethereal. A map showing the locations of all the animals represented and a bit of further information about them concludes the work and brings readers back to Earth after this incredible journey.

A gorgeous, breathtaking experience. (Picture book. 4-10)

Pub Date: Nov. 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-62414-922-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Page Street

Review Posted Online: Sept. 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2020

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As insubstantial as hot air.

THE WORLD NEEDS WHO YOU WERE MADE TO BE

A diverse cast of children first makes a fleet of hot air balloons and then takes to the sky in them.

Lifestyle maven Gaines uses this activity as a platform to celebrate diversity in learning and working styles. Some people like to work together; others prefer a solo process. Some take pains to plan extensively; others know exactly what they want and jump right in. Some apply science; others demonstrate artistic prowess. But “see how beautiful it can be when / our differences share the same sky?” Double-page spreads leading up to this moment of liftoff are laid out such that rhyming abcb quatrains typically contain one or two opposing concepts: “Some of us are teachers / and share what we know. / But all of us are learners. / Together is how we grow!” In the accompanying illustration, a bespectacled, Asian-presenting child at a blackboard lectures the other children on “balloon safety.” Gaines’ text has the ring of sincerity, but the sentiment is hardly an original one, and her verse frequently sacrifices scansion for rhyme. Sometimes it abandons both: “We may not look / or work or think the same, / but we all have an / important part to play.” Swaney’s delicate, pastel-hued illustrations do little to expand on the text, but they are pretty. (This book was reviewed digitally with 11.2-by-18.6-inch double-page spreads viewed at 70.7% of actual size.)

As insubstantial as hot air. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4003-1423-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Tommy Nelson

Review Posted Online: Jan. 19, 2021

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A unique point of view makes this school book stand out.

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SCHOOL'S FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL

Rex offers a different perspective on the first day of school: that of the newly constructed school building itself.

Robinson’s illustrations of Frederick Douglass Elementary are anthropomorphized only from the front and side views (two doors with a window “eye” in each, the two handles making a nose, and mouthlike stairs). Throughout the book, though, the text relays the conversations the school has with Janitor as well as its often funny thoughts and feelings. The brand-new school isn’t so sure that he will enjoy having children inside its walls learning and playing. Once they are there, the school is shocked by a few of the older kids who remark “This place stinks,” and “I hate school.” And when one little freckled girl has to be carried in by her mother, he thinks, “I must be awful.” He’s embarrassed by his fire alarm and doesn’t like having milk snorted on him. But he enjoys learning about shapes with the kindergarten kids, and he likes the change he sees coming over the freckled girl. In fact, he has so much fun on the first day that he asks Janitor to invite all the kids back again tomorrow. “I’ll see what I can do,” says the laconic black man. Using his signature, simple style, Robinson alternates scenes of the building and its interiors with shots that show the boisterously diverse kids’ first day.

A unique point of view makes this school book stand out. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: June 28, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-59643-964-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Neal Porter/Roaring Brook

Review Posted Online: May 4, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2016

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