It’s hard to imagine the child who won’t envy Owen this job.

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OWEN AT THE PARK

Owen lovingly helps his dad care for a beautiful city park.

In an author’s note, Ritchie explains that he visited Berlin’s Tiergarten on a summer day and witnessed the turning on of the sprinklers, an event that “sent [everyone in the park] running in all directions.” He reimagines this day through the eyes of young Owen, who usually sweeps or rakes leaves while his dad drives a large industrial lawn mower. “But once a week, there was a job that Owen loved. And this morning, he was going to do it by himself.” The job involves notifying all those enjoying the park—sunbathers, picnickers, strollers, runners, and others—that the sprinklers are about to be turned on. “For a shy boy like Owen, the first part of the job was difficult.” Then there’s the task he enjoys most: opening the tap to allow water to thoroughly drench the grass, the trees, the flowers, and “anybody who hadn’t listened to Owen.” Although the story is slight, the charming full-bleed, double-page–spread line-and-color illustrations are gloriously green, full of diverse children and adults enjoying a warm day and myriad details to delight close readers. Owen and his dad present as white, and his dad uses crutches in a positive representation of a person with a disability just doing his job.

It’s hard to imagine the child who won’t envy Owen this job. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 6, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-77306-167-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Groundwood

Review Posted Online: April 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2019

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Whimsy, intelligence, and a subtle narrative thread make this rise to the top of a growing list of self-love titles.

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YOU MATTER

Employing a cast of diverse children reminiscent of that depicted in Another (2019), Robinson shows that every living entity has value.

After opening endpapers that depict an aerial view of a busy playground, the perspective shifts to a black child, ponytails tied with beaded elastics, peering into a microscope. So begins an exercise in perspective. From those bits of green life under the lens readers move to “Those who swim with the tide / and those who don’t.” They observe a “pest”—a mosquito biting a dinosaur, a “really gassy” planet, and a dog whose walker—a child in a pink hijab—has lost hold of the leash. Periodically, the examples are validated with the titular refrain. Textured paint strokes and collage elements contrast with uncluttered backgrounds that move from white to black to white. The black pages in the middle portion foreground scenes in space, including a black astronaut viewing Earth; the astronaut is holding an image of another black youngster who appears on the next spread flying a toy rocket and looking lonely. There are many such visual connections, creating emotional interest and invitations for conversation. The story’s conclusion spins full circle, repeating opening sentences with new scenarios. From the microscopic to the cosmic, word and image illuminate the message without a whiff of didacticism.

Whimsy, intelligence, and a subtle narrative thread make this rise to the top of a growing list of self-love titles. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5344-2169-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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Earnest and silly by turns, it doesn’t quite capture the attention or the imagination, although surely its heart is in the...

ROSIE REVERE, ENGINEER

Rhymed couplets convey the story of a girl who likes to build things but is shy about it. Neither the poetry nor Rosie’s projects always work well.

Rosie picks up trash and oddments where she finds them, stashing them in her attic room to work on at night. Once, she made a hat for her favorite zookeeper uncle to keep pythons away, and he laughed so hard that she never made anything publicly again. But when her great-great-aunt Rose comes to visit and reminds Rosie of her own past building airplanes, she expresses her regret that she still has not had the chance to fly. Great-great-aunt Rose is visibly modeled on Rosie the Riveter, the iconic, red-bandanna–wearing poster woman from World War II. Rosie decides to build a flying machine and does so (it’s a heli-o-cheese-copter), but it fails. She’s just about to swear off making stuff forever when Aunt Rose congratulates her on her failure; now she can go on to try again. Rosie wears her hair swooped over one eye (just like great-great-aunt Rose), and other figures have exaggerated hairdos, tiny feet and elongated or greatly rounded bodies. The detritus of Rosie’s collections is fascinating, from broken dolls and stuffed animals to nails, tools, pencils, old lamps and possibly an erector set. And cheddar-cheese spray.

Earnest and silly by turns, it doesn’t quite capture the attention or the imagination, although surely its heart is in the right place. (historical note) (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-4197-0845-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2013

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