An offbeat entertainment worthy of return visits.

HOME AND DRY

A mildly eccentric story about what happens when the rain stops.

A family of three (all white) lives on an island where it rains all the time and the wind blows the same. Not to worry. The family is to the manner born: Mrs. Paddling rises early, dons a mac and a sou’wester, and catches the family a mess of fish for dinner. Mr. Paddling, in a natty one-piece and waxed mustache, gives swimming lessons upstream, and the house is cozy despite the “drip, drip, drip” through the roof (a pail will suffice). Once, long ago, Mr. Paddling wrote to his uncle to come meet the family. One day, Uncle Bastian, “living a lonely life in hotels and eating all by himself,” discovers the forgotten letter and decides to pay a visit. Unfortunately, he times his visit with a drought; the family is upstream looking for water, and thus no one’s at home. As Uncle Bastian leaves, the rains return, and he almost drowns, only to be saved by his nephew. An enormous dinner of fish and chips ends the adventure. The artwork looks like something Edward Gorey might create when feeling warmly sentimental, and the text has a similarly understated, unflappably British cheer to it.

An offbeat entertainment worthy of return visits. (Picture book. 3-8)

Pub Date: March 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-8464-3756-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Child's Play

Review Posted Online: Dec. 14, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

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A visual feast teeming with life.

HAVE YOU EVER SEEN A FLOWER?

A young urbanite romps through floral fields and deep into a flower’s anatomy, exploring humanity’s connection to nature.

A solo car travels away from the dense, gray cityscape. Mountains rise up, full of pattern and light, before revealing a fluorescent field of flowers. A child bursts from the car across the page, neon-rainbow hair streaming in the wind, as both child and place radiate joy and life. The brown-skinned, blue-eyed youngster breathes in the meadow and begins an adventure—part Jamberry, part “Thumbelina,” and part existential journey as the child realizes the life force running through the veins of the flower is the same that runs through all of us, from the water that sustains to the sun that grows. Harris’ colored-pencil illustrations are full of energy and spontaneity. His use of patterning and graphic symbology evoke Oaxacan design, yet the style is all his own. The text is equally enthusiastic: “Have you ever seen / a flower so deep / you had to shout / HELLO / and listen for an echo / just to know / how deep it goes?” The text shifts abruptly from metaphor to metaphor, in one spread the flower likened to a palace and a few pages later, to human anatomy. Nevertheless, like the protagonist and the natural environment, readers will feel themselves stretch and bloom.

A visual feast teeming with life. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: May 4, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-4521-8270-4

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2021

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STELLA BRINGS THE FAMILY

At school, everyone is excited about the upcoming Mother’s Day celebration except for Stella. She is not sure what she will do since she has two dads and no mom.

Stella is easy to spot on the page with her curly red hair but also because she looks so worried. She is not sure what she is going to do for the party. When her classmates ask her what is the matter and she tells them she has no mom to bring, they begin asking more questions. “Who packs your lunch like my mom does for me?” “Who reads you bedtime stories like my mothers do for me?” “Who kisses you when you are hurt?” Stella has Daddy and Papa and other relatives who do all of those things. As the students decorate and craft invitations, “Stella worked harder than everyone.” The day of the event arrives, and Stella shows up with her fathers, uncle, aunt, cousin, and Nonna. And it all turns out well. One student brings his two moms, and another child invites his grandmother since his mother is away. Debut picture-book author Schiffer creates a story featuring diverse modern families that children will recognize from their own direct experiences or from their classrooms or communities. She keeps the text closely focused on Stella’s feelings, and Clifton-Brown chooses finely detailed watercolors to illustrate Stella’s initial troubles and eventual happiness.

Essential. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: May 5, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4521-1190-2

Page Count: 36

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2015

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