A multilayered, endearing treasure of a day.

MY DAY WITH GONG GONG

Spending a day with Gong Gong doesn’t sound like very much fun to May.

Gong Gong doesn’t speak English, and May doesn’t know Chinese. How can they have a good day together? As they stroll through an urban Chinatown, May’s perpetually sanguine maternal grandfather chats with friends and visits shops. At each stop, Cantonese words fly back and forth, many clearly pointed at May, who understands none of it. It’s equally exasperating trying to communicate with Gong Gong in English, and by the time they join a card game in the park with Gong Gong’s friends, May is tired, hungry, and frustrated. But although it seems like Gong Gong hasn’t been attentive so far, when May’s day finally comes to a head, it is clear that he has. First-person text gives glimpses into May’s lively thoughts as they evolve through the day, and Gong Gong’s unchangingly jolly face reflects what could be mistaken for blithe obliviousness but is actually his way of showing love through sharing the people and places of his life. Through adorable illustrations that exude humor and warmth, this portrait of intergenerational affection is also a tribute to life in Chinatown neighborhoods: Street vendors, a busker playing a Chinese violin, a dim sum restaurant, and more all combine to add a distinctive texture. 

A multilayered, endearing treasure of a day. (glossary) (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 8, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-77321-429-0

Page Count: 36

Publisher: Annick Press

Review Posted Online: June 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2020

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A good bet for the youngest bird-watchers.

MAMA BUILT A LITTLE NEST

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. 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2014

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Ideal for the newest of new readers, this tender title’s usefulness may be limited to a very narrow developmental window,...

I HUG

From the I Like To Read series

McPhail’s newest in the I Like to Read series hinges on pivot grammar.

Pivot grammar—with one word substituted in a repeated sentence—is perfect for the very youngest beginning readers. Frontmatter depicts a chubby, white preschooler toting a turtle around before the story begins. Then just 10 statements, all starting, “I hug my…” tell a complete bedtime story. Illustrations showing the targets of the grinning hugger’s affection make each new word absolutely clear. Winsome and astonishingly patient animals calmly endure the child’s enthusiastic attention. Most of the illustrations feature just the child and the creature, person, or object that’s being hugged floating in framed white space. Midway through the book, after the pattern is established, two double-page spreads with more background and details invite new readers to linger and add their own observations. “I hug my rock” features a beach scene. On a tree-hugging spread, a pigtailed brown-skinned child peeking around the fence hints at what comes next: “I hug my friend.” Sometime between hugging dad and hugging mom, the child changes into pajamas, then hugs teddy bear and pillow before falling happily asleep. Or maybe not. A final page with just the words, “I hug” shows the pajama-clad child hugging teddy while gazing at the moon.

Ideal for the newest of new readers, this tender title’s usefulness may be limited to a very narrow developmental window, but it’ll do yeoman work within it . (Early reader. 4-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 15, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-8234-3854-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: May 1, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2017

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