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HAVE YOU HEARD THE NESTING BIRD?

As welcome as the robin in springtime.

Two children wander through the countryside listening to calls of common birds and wonder why the nesting robin alone does not make a sound.

The calls of common birds—mourning dove, woodpecker, starling, sparrow, swallow, crow, cardinal, chickadee, catbird, blue jay, the onomatopoeic whippoorwill and wood thrush—are notated with pleasing accuracy, well enough to allow a child to identify them in nature, even as the children in the book encounter them. Finally, sounds of tapping, cracking and breaking shells emanate from the robin’s nest. Cheeping and peeping are heard, and the long silence is broken by the newborn baby robins. The male robin’s song is sweetly transcribed as “Cheerily, cheer up! My tree makes syrup! Syrup so sweet!” This charming and unusual nature story contributes something new to the overstuffed field of bird-related picture books. Gray’s simple rhymes and accurate bird calls are attractively complemented by Pak’s textured watercolor-resist illustrations in soft greens, browns and grays. Each bird is humorously but accurately depicted. A final “Word with the Bird” in Q-and-A format explains in detail why the robin is silent while hatching her eggs and answers many other useful questions, including the role of the father bird and what happens to the babies after they leave the nest.

As welcome as the robin in springtime. (Informational picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 18, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-544-10580-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: Jan. 14, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 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

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THE MOST MAGNIFICENT THING

Spires’ understanding of the fragility and power of the artistic impulse mixes with expert pacing and subtle...

Making things is difficult work. Readers will recognize the stages of this young heroine’s experience as she struggles to realize her vision.

First comes anticipation. The artist/engineer is spotted jauntily pulling a wagonload of junkyard treasures. Accompanied by her trusty canine companion, she begins drawing plans and building an assemblage. The narration has a breezy tone: “[S]he makes things all the time. Easy-peasy!” The colorful caricatures and creations contrast with the digital black outlines on a white background that depict an urban neighborhood. Intermittent blue-gray panels break up the white expanses on selected pages showing sequential actions. When the first piece doesn’t turn out as desired, the protagonist tries again, hoping to achieve magnificence. A model of persistence, she tries many adjustments; the vocabulary alone offers constructive behaviors: she “tinkers,” “wrenches,” “fiddles,” “examines,” “stares” and “tweaks.” Such hard work, however, combines with disappointing results, eventually leading to frustration, anger and injury. Explosive emotions are followed by defeat, portrayed with a small font and scaled-down figures. When the dog, whose expressions have humorously mirrored his owner’s through each phase, retrieves his leash, the resulting stroll serves them well. A fresh perspective brings renewed enthusiasm and—spoiler alert—a most magnificent scooter sidecar for a loyal assistant.

Spires’ understanding of the fragility and power of the artistic impulse mixes with expert pacing and subtle characterization for maximum delight. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: April 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-55453-704-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Kids Can

Review Posted Online: Feb. 25, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2014

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