Delicious from “dayclean” to “when the sun red fa down.”

A loving family, a verdant garden, and Gullah Geechee traditions are key ingredients to this delightful stew of a story.

When our young narrator, Bobo, awakes, Papa is already in the kitchen preparing warm biscuits for the child and the rest of the family: Mama, Big Sis, and Grandpa. But the day’s work is just starting as Papa and Bobo set out to cook okra stew for dinner tonight. The hard work and garden-grown veggies that go into this meal are on full display in illustrations that rely on acrylic paints, textiles, and various natural materials. Bobo describes the smells and sensations of the “dayclean” (a Gullah term for morning) with vivid detail and a youthfully inviting charm. Midday has father and child gathering shrimp and seashells at a nearby creek, and, upon their return home to the kitchen, the cooking finally begins. Chopped veggies fly across the page and take center stage before making their way into the pot, and the warmth of the kitchen gives way to a flashback of Papa and Grandpa cooking together a generation ago. The recipe is mouthwateringly detailed, skillet-baked cornbread is prepped as a side, and Bobo’s glee is palpable when the rice “rains down into the pot.” Mama and Big Sis return from work and school just in time for stew, and Grandpa joins them, too.

Delicious from “dayclean” to “when the sun red fa down.” (more information on the Gullah Geechee people, glossary of Gullah term, recipe for okra stew) (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 10, 2023

ISBN: 9781250849663

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Sept. 9, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2023



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


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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