A dreamy tribute to summer days—and sea life and the spaces in-between.

DOWN UNDER THE PIER

Four friends revel in the sea riches secluded down under the pier.

Racing from Ferris wheel to carousel, Skee-Ball to whack-a-mole, the children exhaust all of the greatest pleasures on offer “up on the pier.” But when the rides are done and their money’s gone, they go below the pier, where “Fun is free, and the world is ours.” Sumpter’s cotton-candy–colored illustrations, paint and pastels on brown paper, deftly capture the bright lights of the pier above and then, the deeper, dazzling beauty of the creatures hiding below. Beckerman’s lightly repetitive, sometimes rhyming text imbues the narrative with a gentle surge and pull (“They don’t know what we know— / To slip down the stairs when the tide is low”), breaking in small moments of wonder and discovery. The four friends—two of whom appear to be white, a brown-skinned boy with tightly coiled brown hair, and a brown-skinned girl with straight black hair—trawl the pier’s underbelly unaccompanied by adults. They are young enough to find wonder in all of its treasures and just old enough to be allowed to wander off alone. The book concludes with a simple, engaging illustrated guide to some of the sea creatures that can be found in the intertidal zone.

A dreamy tribute to summer days—and sea life and the spaces in-between. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: April 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-944903-86-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Cameron + Company

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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An adorable adventure in cartography.

CAMILLA, CARTOGRAPHER

An exercise of spatial thinking through a snowy forest.

Camilla the warthog collects maps. Maps of stars, New York, even the London Tube. She even owns an ancient map of her forest. Unfortunately for her, she believes all lands have been explored and there is nothing new to chart. However, with a snowy morning comes a new opportunity. When her hedgehog neighbor, Parsley, asks for her help in finding the creek, Camilla quivers with excitement when she realizes the snow-covered land “is uncharted territory.” With all landmarks covered in snow, Camilla and Parsley must use their spatial-reasoning skills and a compass to find a new way to the creek. Their trailblazing journey proves a challenge as they keep bumping into trees, rocks, and walls. But when they find the creek, Camilla will have all the information and tools ready to draw out a new map, to break out in case of another snowfall. Wood’s delightful illustrations and Dillemuth’s expertise in the matter engage readers in the woodland creatures’ adventures. In addition, Dillemuth, who holds a doctorate in geography, provides activities in the backmatter for parents and caregivers to help children develop their own spatial-reasoning skills, such as sketching and reading maps or using cardinal directions.

An adorable adventure in cartography. (author’s note) (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4338-3033-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Magination/American Psychological Association

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

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Just the thing for anyone with a Grinch-y tree of their own in the yard.

THE HALLOWEEN TREE

A grouchy sapling on a Christmas tree farm finds that there are better things than lights and decorations for its branches.

A Grinch among the other trees on the farm is determined never to become a sappy Christmas tree—and never to leave its spot. Its determination makes it so: It grows gnarled and twisted and needle-less. As time passes, the farm is swallowed by the suburbs. The neighborhood kids dare one another to climb the scary, grumpy-looking tree, and soon, they are using its branches for their imaginative play, the tree serving as a pirate ship, a fort, a spaceship, and a dragon. But in winter, the tree stands alone and feels bereft and lonely for the first time ever, and it can’t look away from the decorated tree inside the house next to its lot. When some parents threaten to cut the “horrible” tree down, the tree thinks, “Not now that my limbs are full of happy children,” showing how far it has come. Happily for the tree, the children won’t give up so easily, and though the tree never wished to become a Christmas tree, it’s perfectly content being a “trick or tree.” Martinez’s digital illustrations play up the humorous dichotomy between the happy, aspiring Christmas trees (and their shoppers) and the grumpy tree, and the diverse humans are satisfyingly expressive.

Just the thing for anyone with a Grinch-y tree of their own in the yard. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 6, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4926-7335-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

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