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BEE

NATURE'S TINY MIRACLE

From the Peek-Through Picture Books series

There are few enough books written for very young children about honeybees that this beautiful book is worth a look.

A hexagonal, die-cut window frames a honeybee as she scouts for nectar and then informs her hive of forage.

Teckentrup’s mixed-media illustrations are the star of this picture book, depicting fields of poppies, daisies, and more, the bee always at the center of the die-cut peephole, which gets smaller as the pages turn. Hegarty’s text, in rhyming couplets, is serviceable; nothing more. “Gathering nectar as she goes, / From every foxglove, every rose. / Dusty with pollen, the little bee / Buzzes, buzzes, busily.” It is occasionally misleading, as when it tells readers that the bee is “harvesting flowers” rather than nectar. When Bee happens upon a field with “too many flowers for just one bee,” Teckentrup’s double-page spread depicts a riot of flowers, the printlike textures of the flowers’ petals overlapping one another with a wonderfully smudgy effect that echoes the grains of pollen the bee carries with her. Unfortunate license is taken with the depiction of the hive, which looks like the wasps’ nest too often mistaken for a beehive. Still, the book’s heart is in the right place, as it describes pollination (though not its role in plant reproduction) and makes sure to inform readers that “So many plants and flowers you see / Were given life by one small bee.”

There are few enough books written for very young children about honeybees that this beautiful book is worth a look. (Picture book. 2-5)

Pub Date: Jan. 31, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-84869-288-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Sept. 18, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2016

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MAYBE

More gift book than storybook, this is a meaningful addition to nursery bookshelves

A young child explores the unlimited potential inherent in all humans.

“Have you ever wondered why you are here?” asks the second-person narration. There is no one like you. Maybe you’re here to make a difference with your uniqueness; maybe you will speak for those who can’t or use your gifts to shine a light into the darkness. The no-frills, unrhymed narrative encourages readers to follow their hearts and tap into their limitless potential to be anything and do anything. The precisely inked and colored artwork plays with perspective from the first double-page spread, in which the child contemplates a mountain (or maybe an iceberg) in their hands. Later, they stand on a ladder to place white spots on tall, red mushrooms. The oversized flora and fauna seem to symbolize the presumptively insurmountable, reinforcing the book’s message that anything is possible. This quiet read, with its sophisticated central question, encourages children to reach for their untapped potential while reminding them it won’t be easy—they will make messes and mistakes—but the magic within can help overcome falls and failures. It’s unlikely that members of the intended audience have begun to wonder about their life’s purpose, but this life-affirming mood piece has honorable intentions. The child, accompanied by an adorable piglet and sporting overalls and a bird-beaked cap made of leaves, presents white.

More gift book than storybook, this is a meaningful addition to nursery bookshelves . (Picture book. 2-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-946873-75-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Compendium

Review Posted Online: May 21, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2019

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CINDERELLA

From the Once Upon a World series

A nice but not requisite purchase.

A retelling of the classic fairy tale in board-book format and with a Mexican setting.

Though simplified for a younger audience, the text still relates the well-known tale: mean-spirited stepmother, spoiled stepsisters, overworked Cinderella, fairy godmother, glass slipper, charming prince, and, of course, happily-ever-after. What gives this book its flavor is the artwork. Within its Mexican setting, the characters are olive-skinned and dark-haired. Cultural references abound, as when a messenger comes carrying a banner announcing a “FIESTA” in beautiful papel picado. Cinderella is the picture of beauty, with her hair up in ribbons and flowers and her typically Mexican many-layered white dress. The companion volume, Snow White, set in Japan and illustrated by Misa Saburi, follows the same format. The simplified text tells the story of the beautiful princess sent to the forest by her wicked stepmother to be “done away with,” the dwarves that take her in, and, eventually, the happily-ever-after ending. Here too, what gives the book its flavor is the artwork. The characters wear traditional clothing, and the dwarves’ house has the requisite shoji screens, tatami mats and cherry blossoms in the garden. The puzzling question is, why the board-book presentation? Though the text is simplified, it’s still beyond the board-book audience, and the illustrations deserve full-size books.

A nice but not requisite purchase. (Board book/fairy tale. 3-5)

Pub Date: Sept. 13, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4814-7915-8

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Little Simon/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Oct. 11, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

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