An affirming story about a helpful young Traveller.


From the Travellers' Tales series

Janie helps her neighbor Mrs. Tolen by reconstructing her caravan when the older woman needs a safer living space after breaking her hip.

Janie, a light-skinned girl with reddish hair who lives with her mother and grandfather, and Mrs. Tolen, gray-haired and light-skinned, are Travellers who live in caravans. In the past, they traveled from town to town, working with metals and recycling older materials in what Janie’s grandpa calls the “rag-and-bone trade.” After visiting a can-recycling factory with her diverse class, Janie decides to rebuild Mrs. Tolen’s caravan with the help of classmates and community members. The recycling plant donates recycled metal sheets, and the community collects cans to earn necessary funds. Volunteers work under Janie’s leadership. After Mrs. Tolen finishes rehab, she moves into her new recycled “Can Caravan.” Colorful, realistic illustrations lend an upbeat tone. Perhaps it’s unrealistic for Janie to direct the initiative, but the “komli chavvie” (kind child), as Mrs. Tolen calls her, has a strong interest in creating caravans, and kids will admire her take-charge attitude and goodhearted actions. O’Neill deftly folds traditional Traveller values and vocabulary into a contemporary picture book about recycling and community action. A helpful flowchart at the end shows how cans are recycled. Romani words are defined on the copyright page. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

An affirming story about a helpful young Traveller. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-78628-615-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Child's Play

Review Posted Online: June 22, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2022

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“It’s time to head back home,” the narrator concludes. “You’ve touched the Earth in so many ways.” Who knew it would be so...


From the Julian Lennon White Feather Flier Adventure series , Vol. 1

A pro bono Twinkie of a book invites readers to fly off in a magic plane to bring clean water to our planet’s oceans, deserts, and brown children.

Following a confusingly phrased suggestion beneath a soft-focus world map to “touch the Earth. Now touch where you live,” a shake of the volume transforms it into a plane with eyes and feathered wings that flies with the press of a flat, gray “button” painted onto the page. Pressing like buttons along the journey releases a gush of fresh water from the ground—and later, illogically, provides a filtration device that changes water “from yucky to clean”—for thirsty groups of smiling, brown-skinned people. At other stops, a tap on the button will “help irrigate the desert,” and touching floating bottles and other debris in the ocean supposedly makes it all disappear so the fish can return. The 20 children Coh places on a globe toward the end are varied of skin tone, but three of the four young saviors she plants in the flier’s cockpit as audience stand-ins are white. The closing poem isn’t so openly parochial, though it seldom rises above vague feel-good sentiments: “Love the Earth, the moon and sun. / All the children can be one.”

“It’s time to head back home,” the narrator concludes. “You’ve touched the Earth in so many ways.” Who knew it would be so easy to clean the place up and give everyone a drink? (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: April 11, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-5107-2083-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Sky Pony Press

Review Posted Online: Feb. 4, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2017

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Hurray for the underdog.


Heart (-shaped surface feature) literally broken by its demotion from planet status, Pluto glumly conducts readers on a tour of the solar system.

You’d be bummed, too. Angrily rejecting the suggestions of “mean scientists” from Earth that “ice dwarf” or “plutoid” might serve as well (“Would you like to be called humanoid?”), Pluto drifts out of the Kuiper Belt to lead readers past the so-called “real” planets in succession. All sport faces with googly eyes in Keller’s bright illustrations, and distinct personalities, too—but also actual physical characteristics (“Neptune is pretty icy. And gassy. I’m not being mean, he just is”) that are supplemented by pages of “fun facts” at the end. Having fended off Saturn’s flirtation, endured Jupiter’s stormy reception (“Keep OFF THE GAS!”) and relentless mockery from the asteroids, and given Earth the cold shoulder, Pluto at last takes the sympathetic suggestion of Venus and Mercury to talk to the Sun. “She’s pretty bright.” A (what else?) warm welcome, plus our local star’s comforting reminders that every celestial body is unique (though “people talk about Uranus for reasons I don’t really want to get into”), and anyway, scientists are still arguing the matter because that’s what “science” is all about, mend Pluto’s heart at last: “Whatever I’m called, I’ll always be PLUTO!”

Hurray for the underdog. (afterword) (Informational picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 12, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5344-1453-2

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Beach Lane/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Aug. 12, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2019

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