GRANDMOTHER PTARMIGAN

A brief, illuminating glimpse into Inuit storytelling.

Grandma tries to help her little one fall asleep.

The baby bird asks for a story, but Grandma says she has none to tell. The baby keeps asking, however, so finally Grandma obliges. In her story, lemmings want to join them to get warm. “They want to crawl up your back, / under your armpits, / around your neck. / They want to crawl inside.” Clearly the little ptarmigan is uneasy, but Grandma tickles him all over anyway. Frightened, he flies for the first time—away from Grandma. Bereft, Grandma cries, “nauk, nauk.” This is no ordinary bedtime tale but a pourquoi tale that explains why baby ptarmigans fly at a very young age and females cry. Children who are accustomed to cuddling at bedtime may find this storytelling experience a bit unsettling, but in the harsh natural world of the Arctic, it provides an explanation for observed behavior. Co-author Mikkigak is an Inuit elder, storyteller and performer, and the Canadian publisher is Inuit-owned. Non-Inuit readers will probably wish for notes and a pronunciation guide, but as a cultural expression, the book has its own integrity. Leng’s art in browns and blues is lovely, employing short brush strokes that animate both feathers and flight.

A brief, illuminating glimpse into Inuit storytelling. (Picture book/folk tale. 4-7)

Pub Date: April 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-92709-552-2

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Inhabit Media

Review Posted Online: March 2, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2014

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THERE'S A ROCK CONCERT IN MY BEDROOM

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

MAMA BUILT A LITTLE NEST

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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