This not-so-whimsical flight of fancy could well inspire a new generation of conservationists.

READ REVIEW

PLANT A POCKET OF PRAIRIE

Readers won’t find a definition of what a prairie actually is, but they will learn about the wealth of flora and fauna it contains—and how the loss of any of its life forms affects others tremendously.

Even urban and suburban dwellers can help bring prairies to life again, if only in a limited way, by “[planting] a pocket of prairie / in your backyard / or boulevard / or boxes on a balcony.” Doing so would invite a host of birds, animals and insects to feast on typical prairie plants bearing wonderful names like “foxglove beardtongue” and “hairy mountain mint.” To this end, it helps that the author advises that certain plants can thrive in containers, while some plants must be planted in the earth, but this isn’t really a gardening book. Instead, it’s a fanciful celebration of possibility, as with the addition of each new plant in the hypothetical “pocket,” more prairie wildlife appears, till a bison and her calf are browsing in the grasses. The lively, simple text is poetic; the colorful illustrations of native creatures and plants are energetic. While some of the author’s supplemental text and a map refer specifically to Minnesota, she emphasizes that tiny “pockets of prairie” still exist in various—and unexpected—places elsewhere.

This not-so-whimsical flight of fancy could well inspire a new generation of conservationists. (notes about prairies and prairie wildlife) (Informational picture book. 6-10)

Pub Date: April 15, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-8166-7980-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Univ. of Minnesota

Review Posted Online: Feb. 12, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2014

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In spite of the book’s flaws, dragons are very appealing, and tales for young audiences that model the scientific method are...

DRAGONS AND MARSHMALLOWS

From the Zoey and Sassafras series , Vol. 1

Zoey discovers that she can see magical creatures that might need her help.

That’s a good thing because her mother has been caring for the various beasts since childhood, but now she’s leaving on a business trip so the work will fall to Zoey. Most people (like Zoey’s father) can’t see the magical creatures, so Zoey, who appears in illustrations to be black, will have to experiment with their care by problem-solving using the scientific method to determine appropriate treatment and feeding. When a tiny, sick dragon shows up on her doorstep, she runs an experiment and determines that marshmallows appear to be the proper food. Unfortunately, she hadn’t done enough research beforehand to understand that although dragons might like marshmallows, they might not be the best food for a sick, fire-breathing baby. Although the incorporation of important STEM behaviors is a plus, the exposition is mildly clunky, with little character development and stilted dialogue. Many pages are dense with large-print text, related in Zoey’s not especially childlike voice. However, the inclusion in each chapter of a couple of attractive black-and-white illustrations of round-faced people and Zoey’s mischievous cat helps break up the narrative.

In spite of the book’s flaws, dragons are very appealing, and tales for young audiences that model the scientific method are nice to see. (Fantasy. 6-9)

Pub Date: March 14, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-943147-08-3

Page Count: 96

Publisher: The Innovation Press

Review Posted Online: Dec. 19, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

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Readers (and listeners) will think that this book is the bee’s knees.

THE HONEYBEE

Children will be buzzing to learn more about honeybees after reading this story.

Hall takes her readers on a sunny romp through a springtime pasture abuzz with friendly honeybees in this bright and cheerful picture book. Hall’s rhyme scheme is inviting and mirrors the staccato sounds of a bee buzzing. At times, however, meaning seems to take a back seat to the rhyme. The bees are suggested to “tap” while flying, a noise that adult readers might have trouble explaining to curious listeners. Later, the “hill” the bees return to may elicit further questions, as this point is not addressed textually or visually. Minor quibbles aside, the vocabulary is on-point as the bees demonstrate the various stages of nectar collection and honey creation. Arsenault’s illustrations, a combination of ink, gouache, graphite, and colored pencil, are energetic and cheerful. Extra points should be awarded for properly illustrating a natural honeybee hive (as opposed to the often depicted wasp nest). The expressive bees are also well-done. Their faces are welcoming, but their sharp noses hint at the stingers that may be lurking behind them. Hall’s ending note to readers will be appreciated by adults but will require their interpretation to be accessible to children. A sensible choice for read-alouds and STEAM programs.

Readers (and listeners) will think that this book is the bee’s knees. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: May 8, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4814-6997-5

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: March 18, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2018

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