DOWN UNDER THE PIER

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

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. 8, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

MAMA BUILT A LITTLE NEST

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

CAMILLA, CARTOGRAPHER

An adorable adventure in cartography.

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 13, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

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