WHO’S IN THE GARDEN?

An oversized format and round die cuts allow a little girl to show off her garden in fine fashion. “Who’s coming to see how my garden grows?” loops above a hole cut through the page, through which readers see one gray rabbit. Turn the page, and readers see many “[r]abbits hop, hop, hopping between the rows,” while the die cut frames some carrots on the opposite page. Frogs, bees, birds and moles join the rabbits as the book continues. McDonald’s ebullient mixed-media illustrations are alive with jolly, springtime colors, stylized shapes creating fanciful yet recognizable images. The busyness of the illustrations marks this for toddlers, who will enjoy the many critters that populate this patch. Serious gardeners may wince, but it’s not for them. (Board book. 18 mos.-3)

Pub Date: April 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-84686-403-2

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Barefoot

Review Posted Online: June 3, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2010

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Moving and poetic.

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PAX

A motherless boy is forced to abandon his domesticated fox when his father decides to join soldiers in an approaching war.

Twelve-year-old Peter found his loyal companion, Pax, as an orphaned kit while still grieving his own mother’s death. Peter’s difficult and often harsh father said he could keep the fox “for now” but five years later insists the boy leave Pax by the road when he takes Peter to his grandfather’s house, hundreds of miles away. Peter’s journey back to Pax and Pax’s steadfastness in waiting for Peter’s return result in a tale of survival, intrinsic connection, and redemption. The battles between warring humans in the unnamed conflict remain remote, but the oncoming wave of deaths is seen through Pax’s eyes as woodland creatures are blown up by mines. While Pax learns to negotiate the complications of surviving in the wild and relating to other foxes, Peter breaks his foot and must learn to trust a seemingly eccentric woman named Vola who battles her own ghosts of war. Alternating chapters from the perspectives of boy and fox are perfectly paced and complementary. Only Peter, Pax, Vola, and three of Pax’s fox companions are named, conferring a spare, fablelike quality. Every moment in the graceful, fluid narrative is believable. Klassen’s cover art has a sense of contained, powerful stillness. (Interior illustrations not seen.)

Moving and poetic. (Animal fantasy. 9-13)

Pub Date: Feb. 2, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-06-237701-2

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 19, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2015

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THE CURIOUS GARDEN

Liam, a curious little boy who likes to be outside, lives in a city “without gardens or trees or greenery of any kind.” One day, while exploring an abandoned elevated railbed, he discovers a small patch of weeds and wildflowers. After a little bit of trial and error, Liam nurses his newfound plot into a “restless” garden that explores the length of the railway and, after a dormant winter, begins to find its way into the city below. Brown’s flat, faintly retro graphics make a vigorous accompaniment to his fey text, which personifies the “curious garden” with appealing earnestness. In an author’s note he describes the greening of Manhattan’s abandoned Highline, which inspired this hopeful little paean to the persistence of growing things in the dreariest places. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: April 1, 2009

ISBN: 978-0-316-01547-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2009

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