Children both young and old will be captivated by the details of fetal development and the story of a family preparing for...

NINE MONTHS

BEFORE A BABY IS BORN

What happens when a new baby is on its way? This touching book describes milestones both inside and outside of a mother’s belly over the course of nine months.

A small family consisting of a mother, a father, and a small girl (all people of color with light skin and black hair) are having a fine winter’s day out. Meanwhile, detailed illustrations of a single egg and its divisions begin the story of what’s happening inside the mother. Each page turn brings spare, poetic text that illuminates another month of the baby’s development on the left side and that also complements the scenes unfolding on the right side: a new “big sister” T-shirt, seeing the ultrasound, putting together a crib. Captions also inform readers about the timeline of fetal development and sizes. As the mother’s belly grows, the verso illustrations begin to expand, and by the eighth and ninth months, an actual-size painting of a fully developed fetus takes up most of the spread, while a grandmother arrives in the squished panel on the right. Then, finally, “Loved ones arrive”: both baby and family. As usual, Chin’s (Pie is for Sharing, 2018, etc.) watercolor-and-gouache paintings are exquisite, conveying both scientific details and a loving extended family. Four pages of backmatter about gestation and babies follow, including a sensitive paragraph on “What if…something goes wrong?”

Children both young and old will be captivated by the details of fetal development and the story of a family preparing for and welcoming a new member. (bibliography) (Informational picture book. 3-8)

Pub Date: April 23, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-8234-4161-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Neal Porter/Holiday House

Review Posted Online: Jan. 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2019

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Wow.

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THE STUFF OF STARS

The stories of the births of the universe, the planet Earth, and a human child are told in this picture book.

Bauer begins with cosmic nothing: “In the dark / in the deep, deep dark / a speck floated / invisible as thought / weighty as God.” Her powerful words build the story of the creation of the universe, presenting the science in poetic free verse. First, the narrative tells of the creation of stars by the Big Bang, then the explosions of some of those stars, from which dust becomes the matter that coalesces into planets, then the creation of life on Earth: a “lucky planet…neither too far / nor too near…its yellow star…the Sun.” Holmes’ digitally assembled hand-marbled paper-collage illustrations perfectly pair with the text—in fact the words and illustrations become an inseparable whole, as together they both delineate and suggest—the former telling the story and the latter, with their swirling colors suggestive of vast cosmos, contributing the atmosphere. It’s a stunning achievement to present to readers the factual events that created the birth of the universe, the planet Earth, and life on Earth with such an expressive, powerful creativity of words paired with illustrations so evocative of the awe and magic of the cosmos. But then the story goes one brilliant step further and gives the birth of a child the same beginning, the same sense of magic, the same miracle.

Wow. (Picture book. 3-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 4, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-7636-7883-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: July 16, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2018

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A good choice for a late fall storytime.

SNACK, SNOOZE, SKEDADDLE

HOW ANIMALS GET READY FOR WINTER

Animal behaviors change as they prepare to face the winter.

Migrate, hibernate, or tolerate. With smooth rhymes and jaunty illustrations, Salas and Gévry introduce three strategies animals use for coping with winter cold. The author’s long experience in imparting information to young readers is evident in her selection of familiar animals and in her presentation. Spread by spread she introduces her examples, preparing in fall and surviving in winter. She describes two types of migration: Hummingbirds and monarchs fly, and blue whales travel to the warmth of the south; earthworms burrow deeper into the earth. Without using technical words, she introduces four forms of hibernation—chipmunks nap and snack; bears mainly sleep; Northern wood frogs become an “icy pop,” frozen until spring; and normally solitary garter snakes snuggle together in huge masses. Those who can tolerate the winter still change behavior. Mice store food and travel in tunnels under the snow; moose grow a warmer kind of fur; the red fox dives into the snow to catch small mammals (like those mice); and humans put on warm clothes and play. The animals in the soft pastel illustrations are recognizable, more cuddly than realistic, and quite appealing; their habitats are stylized. The humans represent varied ethnicities. Each page includes two levels of text, and there’s further information in the extensive backmatter. Pair with Joyce Sidman and Rick Allen’s Winter Bees (2014).

A good choice for a late fall storytime. (glossary) (Informational picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5415-2900-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Millbrook/Lerner

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2019

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