A beautifully illustrated and original book that gives youngsters fascinating glimpses into Arctic life.

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This illustrated alphabet book by debut author Ruth Wellborn and debut illustrator Morgan Wellborn introduces readers to flora, fauna, people, and sights of the North American Arctic.

Abecedarian children’s books are thick on the ground, but this one stands out for its unusual theme and unexpected vocabulary. For each letter (E and F plus X and Y are combined), the book provides a complete alliterative sentence that refers to the nature and culture of the four North American Arctic regions: Alaska, the Yukon, the Northwest Territories, and Nunavut. For example, the text for the letter C reads, “A CARIBOU CALF CAPERS THROUGH CLUSTERS OF CLOUDBERRIES.” Each sentence is declarative, providing a consistent structure for the book. Full-color, nicely detailed illustrations show each element of the sentence in realistic, not cartoonish detail, making this book an excellent learning tool as well as beautiful. Vocabulary can be challenging; a “Glossary of Interesting Words” helps define unfamiliar terms, though in ways more suitable to older readers. In the C sentence, for example, cloudberries are described as “an herb native to alpine, Arctic tundra and boreal forests. They produce amber coloured edible fruit similar to a raspberry.” “Tundra” and “boreal,” however, aren’t defined. Other sentences are easier to construe, such as the entry for W: “A WALRUS’S WHISKERS WHITEN AS IT WAITS.” Of special interest are the entries relating to Arctic people and culture. For example, under U, “UNA’S ULU IS A VERY USEFUL UTENSIL,” the illustration shows an old woman slicing salmon with a curved blade, and the glossary explains that an “ulu (or woman’s knife) is a curved all-purpose knife used by the Inuit people. It has many uses and can be used to skin and clean animals, cut hair, prepare food, or trim blocks of snow and ice when building an igloo.” Helpful explanations like this take the book beyond the ABC category, making it appropriate for older readers doing some research. Also included are some statistics, a map, and two pages of “Interesting Facts About the North.”

A beautifully illustrated and original book that gives youngsters fascinating glimpses into Arctic life.

Pub Date: July 19, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5255-2592-6

Page Count: 64

Publisher: FriesenPress

Review Posted Online: Sept. 19, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2018


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


From the Who's in Your Book? series

Playful, engaging, and full of opportunities for empathy—a raucous storytime hit.

Readers try to dislodge a monster from the pages of this emotive and interactive read-aloud.

“OH NO!” the story starts. “There’s a monster in your book!” The blue, round-headed monster with pink horns and a pink-tipped tail can be seen cheerfully munching on the opening page. “Let’s try to get him out,” declares the narrator. Readers are encouraged to shake, tilt, and spin the book around, while the monster careens around an empty background looking scared and lost. Viewers are exhorted to tickle the monster’s feet, blow on the page, and make a really loud noise. Finally, shockingly, it works: “Now he’s in your room!” But clearly a monster in your book is safer than a monster in your room, so he’s coaxed back into the illustrations and lulled to sleep, curled up under one page and cuddling a bit of another like a child with their blankie. The monster’s entirely cute appearance and clear emotional reactions to his treatment add to the interactive aspect, and some young readers might even resist the instructions to avoid hurting their new pal. Children will be brought along on the monster’s journey, going from excited, noisy, and wiggly to calm and steady (one can hope).

Playful, engaging, and full of opportunities for empathy—a raucous storytime hit. (Picture book. 2-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-5247-6456-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: June 4, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2017

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