THE BEE TREE

Surely Grampa, slouched cozily between bookcase and stove, isn't tired of reading, but Mary Ellen is—and Grampa has the perfect diversion: he catches a few bees in the garden, then frees them, one by one, so the two can trail them to their tree. In cumulative style, several colorful neighbors ("Einar Tundevold"; ' 'Klondike' Bertha Fitchworth"; "Feduciary Longdrop" and his goats) join them; together, they smoke out the bees, wrap comb honey in the clean diapers of Baby Sylvester (who has come along with his mom), and go home for tea, biscuits, and honey, as well as "tall tales and raucous laughter as they all buzzed about the sweet adventure of that day." The illustrations set these cheery goings-on back when some folks in Michigan still wore clothes from the old country (and diapers were routinely boiled!); as is her wont, Polacco uses bold areas of white, swatches of bright patterning, and creative perspectives with unusual energy and good humor. In the end, Grampa also has a unique way to sweeten Mary Ellen's book. Another charming piece of Americana from an artist of rare warmth and originality. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: April 21, 1993

ISBN: 0-399-21965-X

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 1993

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Well-meaning and with a lovely presentation, this sentimental effort may be aimed more at adults than kids.

MY LITTLE BRAVE GIRL

Little girls are given encouragement and assurance so they can meet the challenges of life as they move through the big, wide world.

Delicately soft watercolor-style art depicts naturalistic scenes with a diverse quintet of little girls portraying potential situations they will encounter, as noted by a narrative heavily dependent on a series of clichés. “The stars are high, and you can reach them,” it promises as three of the girls chase fireflies under a star-filled night sky. “Oceans run deep, and you will learn to swim,” it intones as one girl treads water and another leans over the edge of a boat to observe life on the ocean floor. “Your feet will take many steps, my brave little girl. / Let your heart lead the way.” Girls gingerly step across a brook before making their way through a meadow. The point of all these nebulous metaphors seems to be to inculcate in girls the independence, strength, and confidence they’ll need to succeed in their pursuits. Trying new things, such as foods, is a “delicious new adventure.” Though the quiet, gentle text is filled with uplifting words that parents will intuitively relate to or comprehend, the esoteric messages may be a bit sentimental and ambiguous for kids to understand or even connect to. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10.5-by-19-inch double-page spreads viewed at 50% of actual size.)

Well-meaning and with a lovely presentation, this sentimental effort may be aimed more at adults than kids. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: March 23, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-30072-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Jan. 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2021

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STELLA BRINGS THE FAMILY

At school, everyone is excited about the upcoming Mother’s Day celebration except for Stella. She is not sure what she will do since she has two dads and no mom.

Stella is easy to spot on the page with her curly red hair but also because she looks so worried. She is not sure what she is going to do for the party. When her classmates ask her what is the matter and she tells them she has no mom to bring, they begin asking more questions. “Who packs your lunch like my mom does for me?” “Who reads you bedtime stories like my mothers do for me?” “Who kisses you when you are hurt?” Stella has Daddy and Papa and other relatives who do all of those things. As the students decorate and craft invitations, “Stella worked harder than everyone.” The day of the event arrives, and Stella shows up with her fathers, uncle, aunt, cousin, and Nonna. And it all turns out well. One student brings his two moms, and another child invites his grandmother since his mother is away. Debut picture-book author Schiffer creates a story featuring diverse modern families that children will recognize from their own direct experiences or from their classrooms or communities. She keeps the text closely focused on Stella’s feelings, and Clifton-Brown chooses finely detailed watercolors to illustrate Stella’s initial troubles and eventual happiness.

Essential. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: May 5, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4521-1190-2

Page Count: 36

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2015

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