This tale of friends enjoying wintry activities at home and out in the snowy world is downright charming.

SNOW MUCH FUN!

Three animal friends enjoy winter activities such as sledding, skating, and ice hockey as well as baking cookies and creating garlands of popcorn and apple slices for birds.

The anthropomorphic characters are a white bear named Berry, a beige squirrel named Ginger, and a timid, pale blue bunny named Willow. The bear and squirrel are excited to play outdoors in the snow, but Willow prefers staying indoors with cocoa and marshmallows. Berry and Ginger encourage Willow, and she finds she enjoys ice hockey when she scores a goal. Intriguing photographic illustrations use small fabric sculptures for the animals with tiny props and relevant costumes such as felt skates and knitted sweaters and hats. The animals are photographed in miniature scenes of snowy outdoor settings and inside the cozy, pink house the friends share. A loosely rhyming text uses different rhyme schemes on each page, with evocative rhyming word pairs describing the activities of the animals. The language includes rich vocabulary such as “squooshed,” “whoosh,” “whirling,” and “shimmering,” and a running gag uses puns with the word “snow” substituted for “so” as in the title.

This tale of friends enjoying wintry activities at home and out in the snowy world is downright charming. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 29, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-274112-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: June 30, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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Whimsy, intelligence, and a subtle narrative thread make this rise to the top of a growing list of self-love titles.

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YOU MATTER

Employing a cast of diverse children reminiscent of that depicted in Another (2019), Robinson shows that every living entity has value.

After opening endpapers that depict an aerial view of a busy playground, the perspective shifts to a black child, ponytails tied with beaded elastics, peering into a microscope. So begins an exercise in perspective. From those bits of green life under the lens readers move to “Those who swim with the tide / and those who don’t.” They observe a “pest”—a mosquito biting a dinosaur, a “really gassy” planet, and a dog whose walker—a child in a pink hijab—has lost hold of the leash. Periodically, the examples are validated with the titular refrain. Textured paint strokes and collage elements contrast with uncluttered backgrounds that move from white to black to white. The black pages in the middle portion foreground scenes in space, including a black astronaut viewing Earth; the astronaut is holding an image of another black youngster who appears on the next spread flying a toy rocket and looking lonely. There are many such visual connections, creating emotional interest and invitations for conversation. The story’s conclusion spins full circle, repeating opening sentences with new scenarios. From the microscopic to the cosmic, word and image illuminate the message without a whiff of didacticism.

Whimsy, intelligence, and a subtle narrative thread make this rise to the top of a growing list of self-love titles. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5344-2169-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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A welcome addition to autumnal storytelling—and to tales of traditional enemies overcoming their history.

THE SCARECROW

Ferry and the Fans portray a popular seasonal character’s unlikely friendship.

Initially, the protagonist is shown in his solitary world: “Scarecrow stands alone and scares / the fox and deer, / the mice and crows. / It’s all he does. It’s all he knows.” His presence is effective; the animals stay outside the fenced-in fields, but the omniscient narrator laments the character’s lack of friends or places to go. Everything changes when a baby crow falls nearby. Breaking his pole so he can bend, the scarecrow picks it up, placing the creature in the bib of his overalls while singing a lullaby. Both abandon natural tendencies until the crow learns to fly—and thus departs. The aabb rhyme scheme flows reasonably well, propelling the narrative through fall, winter, and spring, when the mature crow returns with a mate to build a nest in the overalls bib that once was his home. The Fan brothers capture the emotional tenor of the seasons and the main character in their panoramic pencil, ballpoint, and digital compositions. Particularly poignant is the close-up of the scarecrow’s burlap face, his stitched mouth and leaf-rimmed head conveying such sadness after his companion goes. Some adults may wonder why the scarecrow seems to have only partial agency, but children will be tuned into the problem, gratified by the resolution.

A welcome addition to autumnal storytelling—and to tales of traditional enemies overcoming their history. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-247576-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2019

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