Healing, both physical and emotional, is eased through the power of story.

A Puerto Rican girl and her storytelling brother, Antonio, survive a powerful hurricane that rips the roof off of their home.

The trauma of the storm silences Antonio, and he is no longer able to share his gift of stories. A blue tarp covers the house until they can replace it with a new roof—a daily reminder of the storm and the damage it caused. Still, the siblings find joy in the situation, imagining that the blue hue cast by sunlight through the tarp is the water of the ocean or envisioning the shadows as macaws and herons in the jungle. The protagonist promises to help Antonio find his voice. Eventually, the roof is replaced, and Antonio regains his speech, ready to share his stories once again. In their newly mended home, the family finds a creative way to honor the blue tarp that sheltered them. The story and a note from the author bring an important focus to the continued recovery of Puerto Rico after devastating hurricanes such as 2017’s Irma and Maria and the challenges that Puerto Ricans continue to face as they rebuild. Vargas’ art has a scribbly, childlike feeling that makes the tale relatable despite its potentially scary subject. The siblings and their parents have brown skin and curly brown hair. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Healing, both physical and emotional, is eased through the power of story. (hurricane and climate change information, ways children can help) (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: April 11, 2023

ISBN: 9781623542337

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Charlesbridge

Review Posted Online: Dec. 13, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2023


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


A good bet for the youngest bird-watchers.

Echoing the meter of “Mary Had a Little Lamb,” Ward uses catchy original rhymes to describe the variety of nests birds create.

Each sweet stanza is complemented by a factual, engaging description of the nesting habits of each bird. Some of the notes are intriguing, such as the fact that the hummingbird uses flexible spider web to construct its cup-shaped nest so the nest will stretch as the chicks grow. An especially endearing nesting behavior is that of the emperor penguin, who, with unbelievable patience, incubates the egg between his tummy and his feet for up to 60 days. The author clearly feels a mission to impart her extensive knowledge of birds and bird behavior to the very young, and she’s found an appealing and attractive way to accomplish this. The simple rhymes on the left page of each spread, written from the young bird’s perspective, will appeal to younger children, and the notes on the right-hand page of each spread provide more complex factual information that will help parents answer further questions and satisfy the curiosity of older children. Jenkins’ accomplished collage illustrations of common bird species—woodpecker, hummingbird, cowbird, emperor penguin, eagle, owl, wren—as well as exotics, such as flamingoes and hornbills, are characteristically naturalistic and accurate in detail.

A good bet for the youngest bird-watchers.   (author’s note, further resources) (Informational picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 18, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4424-2116-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Beach Lane/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Jan. 3, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2014

Close Quickview