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Ranger Baldy and the Disappearing Waterfall


A vividly illustrated picture book about one of Mother Nature’s mysteries, with plenty of kid appeal.

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  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2014

An eagle named Ranger Baldy, who’s also an animal rescuer and conservationist, joins a cast of friendly, Disney-esque animals in his first adventure.

Baldy, a Ranger First Class in the Animal Ranger Corps, is new to Yosemite Valley. He was born in a zoo and raised in captivity, so he’s suspicious of human “two-leggers,” as they harm nature, which he’s sworn to protect. In beautifully painted panoramas, the cartoon eagle begins the story by flying to the rescue of mischievous Bobby Cat. The feline’s fall from a teetering tree causes a number of other trees to topple and block a waterfall. Gruff Baldy scolds Bobby and his friend Mules Deer and enlists them to help clear the waterfall’s path—but then the water mysteriously vanishes. Baldy follows some two-legger tracks, thinking that humans may be to blame for the disappearing water, but Graycee Fox assures Baldy, as they converse among bright redwoods, that the humans were actually planting trees. Still looking for a lead, Baldy helps a kingsnake mother move her eggs to a safer location, knowing that, like the baby trees, those baby snakes will need to have water—but that won’t happen unless he can solve the mystery. Flying high, he sees that snow is also missing from the mountaintops, so he decides to visit his old Ranger Chief, J.M. Bear, for advice. The old grizzly bear explains that the dried-out falls are just a part of Yosemite’s natural cycle. Although Baldy is ashamed of his lack of knowledge, Bear praises him for his attention during his investigation: “ ‘It’s those little things that matter most,’ said J.M. ‘They make the big difference.’ ” The book’s combination of gorgeously painted backgrounds and cartoon animals works brilliantly and may encourage young readers to take an interest in Yosemite and other national parks. Baldy is exactly the type of hero that young animal lovers and conservationists will eagerly follow: brave, kind and willing to learn from his mistakes. Early elementary schoolers, whether independent readers or lap-readers, will be eager for more of Baldy’s adventures.

A vividly illustrated picture book about one of Mother Nature’s mysteries, with plenty of kid appeal.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-938155-00-0

Page Count: 34

Publisher: The Magic Factory

Review Posted Online: March 25, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2014


From the Once Upon a World series

A nice but not requisite purchase.

A retelling of the classic fairy tale in board-book format and with a Mexican setting.

Though simplified for a younger audience, the text still relates the well-known tale: mean-spirited stepmother, spoiled stepsisters, overworked Cinderella, fairy godmother, glass slipper, charming prince, and, of course, happily-ever-after. What gives this book its flavor is the artwork. Within its Mexican setting, the characters are olive-skinned and dark-haired. Cultural references abound, as when a messenger comes carrying a banner announcing a “FIESTA” in beautiful papel picado. Cinderella is the picture of beauty, with her hair up in ribbons and flowers and her typically Mexican many-layered white dress. The companion volume, Snow White, set in Japan and illustrated by Misa Saburi, follows the same format. The simplified text tells the story of the beautiful princess sent to the forest by her wicked stepmother to be “done away with,” the dwarves that take her in, and, eventually, the happily-ever-after ending. Here too, what gives the book its flavor is the artwork. The characters wear traditional clothing, and the dwarves’ house has the requisite shoji screens, tatami mats and cherry blossoms in the garden. The puzzling question is, why the board-book presentation? Though the text is simplified, it’s still beyond the board-book audience, and the illustrations deserve full-size books.

A nice but not requisite purchase. (Board book/fairy tale. 3-5)

Pub Date: Sept. 13, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4814-7915-8

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Little Simon/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Oct. 11, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017


More gift book than storybook, this is a meaningful addition to nursery bookshelves

A young child explores the unlimited potential inherent in all humans.

“Have you ever wondered why you are here?” asks the second-person narration. There is no one like you. Maybe you’re here to make a difference with your uniqueness; maybe you will speak for those who can’t or use your gifts to shine a light into the darkness. The no-frills, unrhymed narrative encourages readers to follow their hearts and tap into their limitless potential to be anything and do anything. The precisely inked and colored artwork plays with perspective from the first double-page spread, in which the child contemplates a mountain (or maybe an iceberg) in their hands. Later, they stand on a ladder to place white spots on tall, red mushrooms. The oversized flora and fauna seem to symbolize the presumptively insurmountable, reinforcing the book’s message that anything is possible. This quiet read, with its sophisticated central question, encourages children to reach for their untapped potential while reminding them it won’t be easy—they will make messes and mistakes—but the magic within can help overcome falls and failures. It’s unlikely that members of the intended audience have begun to wonder about their life’s purpose, but this life-affirming mood piece has honorable intentions. The child, accompanied by an adorable piglet and sporting overalls and a bird-beaked cap made of leaves, presents white.

More gift book than storybook, this is a meaningful addition to nursery bookshelves . (Picture book. 2-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-946873-75-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Compendium

Review Posted Online: May 21, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2019

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