More female-powered action from an inspired creative team.

Following Special Delivery (2015) and The Only Fish in the Sea (2017), a third adventure from Stead and Cordell finds young Sadie playing a supporting role to elderly Aunt Josephine, whose tales of past adventures drive the action.

Aunt J directs Sadie to ignore the persistent knocking. “It could be a vacuum salesman. Or more likely, a suitor….I have been the world over, Sadie, and today—I will sleep past noon.” But instead of sleeping, she spins a yarn. Beginning with her work as a 9-year-old member of a multiracial scientific team in “the jungles of Peru,” Aunt Josephine recounts sighting a giant frog as it swallows the young son (smitten with her) of the recently deceased expedition leader. The frog’s escape begets Aunt J’s around-the-world journey. “For though I didn’t care much for the admiral’s son, I do abhor a job unfinished. And it was my job to catalog that frog!” Cordell’s visual drollery embellishes the exploits, which include Josephine’s dog, a rhea, a parrot, a tortoise, an ordinary frog, and a few canaries. Thought-bubble vignettes show the group at Egyptian pyramids, the Taj Mahal, and the Roman Colosseum. Over years, a pith-helmeted Josephine hikes, bikes, dives, and pilots a helicopter—all in exuberant but vain pursuit of that frog. Cordell provides hand-lettered display type for some text along with a houseful of domestic animals and visual clues to Josephine’s and Sadie’s prior adventures. A final page lets readers discover the source of that knocking. Hint: it’s no vacuum salesman. Both Sadie and Aunt J present White.

More female-powered action from an inspired creative team. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Feb. 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-8234-4426-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Neal Porter/Holiday House

Review Posted Online: Dec. 14, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2021


Nice enough but not worth repeat reads.

Emma deals with jitters before playing the guitar in the school talent show.

Pop musician Kevin Jonas and his wife, Danielle, put performance at the center of their picture-book debut. When Emma is intimidated by her very talented friends, the encouragement of her younger sister, Bella, and the support of her family help her to shine her own light. The story is straightforward and the moral familiar: Draw strength from your family and within to overcome your fears. Employing the performance-anxiety trope that’s been written many times over, the book plods along predictably—there’s nothing really new or surprising here. Dawson’s full-color digital illustrations center a White-presenting family along with Emma’s three friends of color: Jamila has tanned skin and wears a hijab; Wendy has dark brown skin and Afro puffs; and Luis has medium brown skin. Emma’s expressive eyes and face are the real draw of the artwork—from worry to embarrassment to joy, it’s clear what she’s feeling. A standout double-page spread depicts Emma’s talent show performance, with a rainbow swirl of music erupting from an amp and Emma rocking a glam outfit and electric guitar. Overall, the book reads pretty plainly, buoyed largely by the artwork. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Nice enough but not worth repeat reads. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: March 29, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-35207-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Razorbill/Penguin

Review Posted Online: Feb. 8, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2022


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

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