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NIGHT SONG

Poetic and peaceful: a natural for bedtime reading.

Despite great effort, Bernardo the frog just can’t find a place in the morning chorus.

Bernardo knows his song sounds “like wood and nighttime and things inside of other things.” But he loves the way the birds sing to the sun to unfold the flowers and send leaves “to dance across the forest floor.” He finds it so lovely that he tries to join in by donning a silly bird disguise made of leaves and berries. Alas, he looks ridiculous to the creatures around the pond; nor do they appreciate his efforts to climb a tree and then dance awkwardly across flower tops. By the time he gives up, the sun has traveled across the sky, and he feels too discouraged to listen to the crickets, the blackbirds, and the other frogs in their evening chorus—until, that is, he hears a snail marvel at “the song that lulls the woods to sleep.” Using a mix of watercolor, colored pencil, and ink, Yum illustrates Smith Despres’ lilting, sonorous text with idyllic scenes of songbirds and waterfowl, butterflies and dragonflies, amid verdant tufts of greenery and sprays of flowers. As the day passes and the tonal palette dims subtly from bright day to a cool blue star-flecked night, one last view leaves the small frog with eyes closed in blissful appreciation.

Poetic and peaceful: a natural for bedtime reading. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Jan. 9, 2024

ISBN: 9781592703944

Page Count: 52

Publisher: Enchanted Lion Books

Review Posted Online: Oct. 21, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2023

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PIRATES DON'T TAKE BATHS

Echoes of Runaway Bunny color this exchange between a bath-averse piglet and his patient mother. Using a strategy that would probably be a nonstarter in real life, the mother deflects her stubborn offspring’s string of bath-free occupational conceits with appeals to reason: “Pirates NEVER EVER take baths!” “Pirates don’t get seasick either. But you do.” “Yeesh. I’m an astronaut, okay?” “Well, it is hard to bathe in zero gravity. It’s hard to poop and pee in zero gravity too!” And so on, until Mom’s enticing promise of treasure in the deep sea persuades her little Treasure Hunter to take a dive. Chunky figures surrounded by lots of bright white space in Segal’s minimally detailed watercolors keep the visuals as simple as the plotline. The language isn’t quite as basic, though, and as it rendered entirely in dialogue—Mother Pig’s lines are italicized—adult readers will have to work hard at their vocal characterizations for it to make any sense. Moreover, younger audiences (any audiences, come to that) may wonder what the piggy’s watery closing “EUREKA!!!” is all about too. Not particularly persuasive, but this might coax a few young porkers to get their trotters into the tub. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: March 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-399-25425-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: Jan. 25, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2011

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LUCY'S LIGHT

Too many bugs, figuratively.

Lucy, “the youngest member of a family of fireflies,” must overcome an irrational, moon-induced anxiety in order to leave her family tree trunk and glow.

The first six pages pull readers into a lush, beautiful world of nighttime: “When the sun has set, silence falls over the Big Forest, and all of the nighttime animals wake up.” Mixed media provide an enchanting forest background, with stylized flora and fauna eventually illuminated by a large, benign moon, because the night “doesn’t like to catch them by surprise.” Turning the page catches readers by surprise, though: the family of fireflies is decidedly comical and silly-looking. Similarly, the text moves from a lulling, magical cadence to a distinct shift in mood as the bugs ready themselves for their foray into the night: “They wave their bottoms in the air, wiggle their feelers, take a deep, deep breath, and sing, ‘Here we go, it’s time to glow!’ ” It’s an acceptable change, but more unevenness follows. Lucy’s excitement about finally joining the other bugs turns to “sobbing” two nights in a row. Instead of directly linking her behavior to understandable reactions of children to newness, the text undermines itself by making Lucy’s parents’ sweet reassurances impotent and using the grandmother’s scientific explanation of moonlight as an unnecessary metaphor. Further detracting from the story, the text becomes ever denser and more complex over the book’s short span.

Too many bugs, figuratively. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Nov. 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-84-16147-00-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Cuento de Luz

Review Posted Online: July 21, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2015

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