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Kaadan crafts a happy ending within an active war context, no easy feat; readers seeking a less fantasy-dependent plot may...

A story about how a child and his family cope with war.

Yazan, a Syrian boy, has not been able to go to the park to play recently nor to go to school sometimes, which upsets him. He used to have fun watching his mother paint and painting with her, but recently she has been constantly watching TV with the volume so loud and the images spilling out of it full of darkness—literally: Shadows ooze out of it in the pencil-and-watercolor illustrations, one of many symbolic images used to portray war and destruction. One weekend, after all of Yazan’s attempts at self-entertainment and to engage with his parents fail, he escapes. However, the world he sees outside is not what he expected: The street is empty, there are no other kids to play with, and scary sounds of explosions abound. Yazan’s father eventually comes to the rescue, and his parents become more involved again, explaining to him why he cannot go outside. His mother brings her paints, and Yazan is excited. “When will the fighting be over?” he asks. “I don’t know,” says his mother, but “let’s paint a park in your bedroom…and soon, you’ll be able to go outside again and play.”

Kaadan crafts a happy ending within an active war context, no easy feat; readers seeking a less fantasy-dependent plot may enjoy Nicola Davies and Rebecca Cobb’s The Day War Came (2018) or Hayan Charara and Sara Kahn’s The Three Lucys (2016). (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-911373-43-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Lantana

Review Posted Online: July 15, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2018

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Nice enough but not worth repeat reads.

Emma deals with jitters before playing the guitar in the school talent show.

Pop musician Kevin Jonas and his wife, Danielle, put performance at the center of their picture-book debut. When Emma is intimidated by her very talented friends, the encouragement of her younger sister, Bella, and the support of her family help her to shine her own light. The story is straightforward and the moral familiar: Draw strength from your family and within to overcome your fears. Employing the performance-anxiety trope that’s been written many times over, the book plods along predictably—there’s nothing really new or surprising here. Dawson’s full-color digital illustrations center a White-presenting family along with Emma’s three friends of color: Jamila has tanned skin and wears a hijab; Wendy has dark brown skin and Afro puffs; and Luis has medium brown skin. Emma’s expressive eyes and face are the real draw of the artwork—from worry to embarrassment to joy, it’s clear what she’s feeling. A standout double-page spread depicts Emma’s talent show performance, with a rainbow swirl of music erupting from an amp and Emma rocking a glam outfit and electric guitar. Overall, the book reads pretty plainly, buoyed largely by the artwork. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Nice enough but not worth repeat reads. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: March 29, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-35207-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Razorbill/Penguin

Review Posted Online: Feb. 8, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2022

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A good bet for the youngest bird-watchers.

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. 3, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2014

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