An excellent addition to any young nature lover’s library.

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OUR FOREST

This posthumously published picture book offers readers a rhyming romp through the woods.

Debut author Frank’s work is organized into two long-form poems. In the first, “Clarence and Porky,” Clarence, a bear, loves honey, and Porky, a porcupine, loves salt. The bear finds his favorite treat on a high shelf in an abandoned cabin. He’s big but not quite tall enough to reach the honey. He later happens upon Porky, with whom he shares his troubled tale. It turns out that Porky had found the cabin earlier and saw a box of salt sitting on the same shelf, beside the honey jar. Together, the friends decide that Porky will climb onto Clarence’s shoulders so that they can both achieve their comestible goals. Turning to another part of the forest, “Reynold and Gerald” tells of two foxes who astutely outsmart a pack of dogs without breaking a sweat. The two best friends are inseparable and look nearly identical. As one clever fox naps in their hollow-log home, the other leads the rapidly tiring pack around the field; then the foxes switch while keeping their pursuers ignorant of the fact that they’re chasing more than one target. They perform this ruse over and over until they finally win the day. This book seems made to be read aloud, as it’s written in well-timed, descriptive verse: “The atmosphere is hushed and dark, / A jungle made of leaves and bark.” Reynold’s and Gerald’s names both evoke the fabled Reynard the fox—a clever tidbit that lovers of folktales will undoubtedly appreciate. The pleasant poems are punctuated with gentle, earth-toned, uncredited illustrations of the animals and their surroundings, lovingly rendered in a careful stylistic balance between realism and cartoonish fun. Overall, the book shows a clear respect for nature, nodding to humanity’s relationship with the outdoors in a preface poem.

An excellent addition to any young nature lover’s library.

Pub Date: Oct. 30, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5255-2459-2

Page Count: 60

Publisher: FriesenPress

Review Posted Online: Jan. 2, 2019

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A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift.

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BECAUSE I HAD A TEACHER

A paean to teachers and their surrogates everywhere.

This gentle ode to a teacher’s skill at inspiring, encouraging, and being a role model is spoken, presumably, from a child’s viewpoint. However, the voice could equally be that of an adult, because who can’t look back upon teachers or other early mentors who gave of themselves and offered their pupils so much? Indeed, some of the self-aware, self-assured expressions herein seem perhaps more realistic as uttered from one who’s already grown. Alternatively, readers won’t fail to note that this small book, illustrated with gentle soy-ink drawings and featuring an adult-child bear duo engaged in various sedentary and lively pursuits, could just as easily be about human parent- (or grandparent-) child pairs: some of the softly colored illustrations depict scenarios that are more likely to occur within a home and/or other family-oriented setting. Makes sense: aren’t parents and other close family members children’s first teachers? This duality suggests that the book might be best shared one-on-one between a nostalgic adult and a child who’s developed some self-confidence, having learned a thing or two from a parent, grandparent, older relative, or classroom instructor.

A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-943200-08-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Compendium

Review Posted Online: Dec. 14, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

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THE LORAX

The greening of Dr. Seuss, in an ecology fable with an obvious message but a savingly silly style. In the desolate land of the Lifted Lorax, an aged creature called the Once-ler tells a young visitor how he arrived long ago in the then glorious country and began manufacturing anomalous objects called Thneeds from "the bright-colored tufts of the Truffula Trees." Despite protests from the Lorax, a native "who speaks for the trees," he continues to chop down Truffulas until he drives away the Brown Bar-ba-loots who had fed on the Tuffula fruit, the Swomee-Swans who can't sing a note for the smogulous smoke, and the Humming-Fish who had hummed in the pond now glumped up with Gluppity-Glupp. As for the Once-let, "1 went right on biggering, selling more Thneeds./ And I biggered my money, which everyone needs" — until the last Truffula falls. But one seed is left, and the Once-let hands it to his listener, with a message from the Lorax: "UNLESS someone like you/ cares a whole awful lot,/ nothing is going to get better./ It's not." The spontaneous madness of the old Dr. Seuss is absent here, but so is the boredom he often induced (in parents, anyway) with one ridiculous invention after another. And if the Once-let doesn't match the Grinch for sheer irresistible cussedness, he is stealing a lot more than Christmas and his story just might induce a generation of six-year-olds to care a whole lot.

Pub Date: Aug. 12, 1971

ISBN: 0394823370

Page Count: 72

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Oct. 19, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1971

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