This pleasant look at gardening in a city setting reflects a growing trend.

ANYWHERE FARM

Several inner-city children work together to plant seeds and cultivate their own gardens, transforming their little “anywhere farms” into a lush, green community garden covering a vacant city lot.

A pink-cheeked little girl in overalls receives a single seed from a helpful tan-skinned neighbor on the title page, and she then inspires a flurry of gardening in her neighborhood with children and adults of different ethnicities joining in, including a white boy who uses a wheelchair. The bouncy, rhyming text conveys the basic requirements of growing plants from seeds as well as suggesting a wide variety of unusual containers for growing plants. Several leading questions about the plant growth cycle are interspersed within the story, set in large type on full pages that show a seed gradually sprouting and growing into a huge sunflower on the final, wordless page. The joyful text makes growing flowers and vegetables seem easy, showing plants spilling out of alternative containers as well as more traditional raised beds and the concluding, large garden plot. The text focuses on the titular concept of an “anywhere farm,” without differentiating between farms and gardens, but this conceit is part of the amusing, rollicking tone. Detailed, soft-focus illustrations in mixed media use an autumnal palette of muted green, peach, and tan that don’t quite match the buoyant flavor of the cheerful text.

This pleasant look at gardening in a city setting reflects a growing trend. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 14, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-7636-7499-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Dec. 6, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2016

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A quiet, thought-provoking story of environmental change and the power humans have to slow it.

THE OLD BOAT

A multigenerational tale of a boat’s life with a Black family, written by two brothers who loved similar boats.

In the opening spread, a smiling, brown-skinned adult dangles a line from the back of a green-and-white boat while a boy peers eagerly over the side at the sea life. The text never describes years passing, but each page turn reveals the boy’s aging, more urban development on the shore, increasing water pollution, marine-life changes (sea jellies abound on one page), and shifting water levels. Eventually, the boy, now a teenager, steers the boat, and as an adult, he fishes alone but must go farther and farther out to sea to make his catch. One day, the man loses his way, capsizes in a storm, and washes up on a small bay island, with the overturned, sunken boat just offshore. Now a “new sailor” cleans up the land and water with others’ help. The physical similarities between the shipwrecked sailor and the “new sailor” suggest that this is not a new person but one whose near-death experience has led to an epiphany that changes his relationship to water. As the decaying boat becomes a new marine habitat, the sailor teaches the next generation (a child with hair in two Afro puffs) to fish. Focusing primarily on the sea, the book’s earth-toned illustrations, created with hundreds of stamps, carry the compelling plot.

A quiet, thought-provoking story of environmental change and the power humans have to slow it. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-324-00517-9

Page Count: 56

Publisher: Norton Young Readers

Review Posted Online: Dec. 25, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2021

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A retro-futuristic romp, literally and figuratively screwy.

ROBOBABY

Robo-parents Diode and Lugnut present daughter Cathode with a new little brother—who requires, unfortunately, some assembly.

Arriving in pieces from some mechanistic version of Ikea, little Flange turns out to be a cute but complicated tyke who immediately falls apart…and then rockets uncontrollably about the room after an overconfident uncle tinkers with his basic design. As a squad of helpline techies and bevies of neighbors bearing sludge cake and like treats roll in, the cluttered and increasingly crowded scene deteriorates into madcap chaos—until at last Cath, with help from Roomba-like robodog Sprocket, stages an intervention by whisking the hapless new arrival off to a backyard workshop for a proper assembly and software update. “You’re such a good big sister!” warbles her frazzled mom. Wiesner’s robots display his characteristic clean lines and even hues but endearingly look like vaguely anthropomorphic piles of random jet-engine parts and old vacuum cleaners loosely connected by joints of armored cable. They roll hither and thither through neatly squared-off panels and pages in infectiously comical dismay. Even the end’s domestic tranquility lasts only until Cathode spots the little box buried in the bigger one’s packing material: “TWINS!” (This book was reviewed digitally with 9-by-22-inch double-page spreads viewed at 52% of actual size.)

A retro-futuristic romp, literally and figuratively screwy. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-544-98731-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Clarion

Review Posted Online: June 3, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2020

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