A powerful conservation message.

LAST

THE STORY OF A WHITE RHINO

Is the male white rhinoceros at the zoo the only one of his kind left?

The text is sparse and thoughtful. The artwork combines sophisticated collage—including words from many languages inscribed on buildings and animals—with a distinctive drawing style that breathes life equally into humans and animals, automobiles and elevated trains, gritty urban settings and vividly flowered meadows. The first double-page spread has a beige-and-gray palette that sets a somber mood. A young person of color—who reappears later—is gazing toward the protagonist’s large, foregrounded head. A gray city lies behind this figure. The only words: “I am the last.” The next spread continues the bleakness with an aerial view of the zoo and its surrounds. The text continues with the rhino’s sad musing. The pages that follow are a bright and joyous contrast, as readers see the rhinoceros recalling his native land. No one could fail to be moved by baby rhinos cavorting in flamingo-filled waters or by the protagonist gazing adoringly at his mama, who smells “beautiful.” The mother’s death from a horn poacher’s bullet is subtly portrayed but obvious enough to elicit questions from young readers. More “lasts” at the zoo create further pathos. The rhino’s eventual, final relocation will dispel some of the tale’s grimness for little ones; older readers will feel less optimistic when they read the endnotes about a real rhino named Sudan. (This book was reviewed digitally with 9.25-by-18.5-inch double-page spreads viewed at 74% of actual size.)

A powerful conservation message. (note on art) (Picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-910328-64-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Tiny Owl

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2020

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Cool and stylish.

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ADA TWIST, SCIENTIST

Her intellectual curiosity is surpassed only by her passion for science. But what to do about her messy experiments?

Ada is speechless until she turns 3. But once she learns how to break out of her crib, there’s no stopping the kinky-haired, brown-skinned girl. “She tore through the house on a fact-finding spree.” When she does start speaking, her favorite words are “why,” “how,” and “when.” Her parents, a fashion-forward black couple who sport a variety of trendy outfits, are dumbfounded, and her older brother can only point at her in astonishment. She amazes her friends with her experiments. Ada examines all the clocks in the house, studies the solar system, and analyzes all the smells she encounters. Fortunately, her parents stop her from putting the cat in the dryer, sending her instead to the Thinking Chair. But while there, she covers the wall with formulae. What can her parents do? Instead of punishing her passion, they decide to try to understand it. “It’s all in the heart of a young scientist.” Though her plot is negligible—Ada’s parents arguably change more than she does—Beaty delightfully advocates for girls in science in her now-trademark crisply rhyming text. Roberts’ illustrations, in watercolor, pen, and ink, manage to be both smart and silly; the page compositions artfully evoke the tumult of Ada’s curiosity, filling white backgrounds with questions and clutter.

Cool and stylish. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 6, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4197-2137-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: July 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2016

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A lesson that never grows old, enacted with verve by two favorite friends

WAITING IS NOT EASY!

From the Elephant & Piggie series

Gerald the elephant learns a truth familiar to every preschooler—heck, every human: “Waiting is not easy!”

When Piggie cartwheels up to Gerald announcing that she has a surprise for him, Gerald is less than pleased to learn that the “surprise is a surprise.” Gerald pumps Piggie for information (it’s big, it’s pretty, and they can share it), but Piggie holds fast on this basic principle: Gerald will have to wait. Gerald lets out an almighty “GROAN!” Variations on this basic exchange occur throughout the day; Gerald pleads, Piggie insists they must wait; Gerald groans. As the day turns to twilight (signaled by the backgrounds that darken from mauve to gray to charcoal), Gerald gets grumpy. “WE HAVE WASTED THE WHOLE DAY!…And for WHAT!?” Piggie then gestures up to the Milky Way, which an awed Gerald acknowledges “was worth the wait.” Willems relies even more than usual on the slightest of changes in posture, layout and typography, as two waiting figures can’t help but be pretty static. At one point, Piggie assumes the lotus position, infuriating Gerald. Most amusingly, Gerald’s elephantine groans assume weighty physicality in spread-filling speech bubbles that knock Piggie to the ground. And the spectacular, photo-collaged images of the Milky Way that dwarf the two friends makes it clear that it was indeed worth the wait.

A lesson that never grows old, enacted with verve by two favorite friends . (Early reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 4, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4231-9957-1

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Nov. 5, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2014

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