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THE OCEAN IN YOUR BATHTUB

On this difficult issue, it’s hard to strike the right balance for young readers; this is a valiant effort.

In our world, oceans are everywhere, they affect everything, and everything we do has an effect on the oceans.

In their third joint foray into science-related picture books following A Hundred Billion Trillion Stars (2017) and Power Up (2019), Fishman and Greenberg exhort their readers to do “good deeds” for the ocean. The writer addresses his readers directly with this simple message but starts off with an explanation. Not only do oceans cover most of our planet, they provide almost all the water. Much of the oxygen we breathe comes from ocean plants, and if our food doesn’t come directly from the oceans, it relies on a water cycle that includes the oceans. Similarly, everything we do affects oceans. He points out that people haven’t always thought about human effects on the ocean: “Sometimes it takes a while to learn from your mistakes, right?” The large, legible text is set directly on bold cartoon art characterized by bright, flat colors, blocky shading, and heavy black outlines. The two kids shown on the cover (one black-presenting, one white-presenting) travel throughout the book. One double-page spread shows some suggested actions: cleaning a beach, studying a coral reef, helping seals in an aquarium. Sadly, a final spread still shows one of the kids flying the helium balloon that first appeared over an ocean filled with trash, a mixed message.

On this difficult issue, it’s hard to strike the right balance for young readers; this is a valiant effort. (author’s note) (Informational picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: May 19, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-295336-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Review Posted Online: Feb. 17, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

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MAMA BUILT A LITTLE NEST

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

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ASTRONAUT ANNIE

A solid, small step for diversifying STEM stories.

What does Annie want to be?

As career day approaches, Annie wants to keep her job choice secret until her family sees her presentation at school. Readers will figure it out, however, through the title and clues Tadgell incorporates into the illustrations. Family members make guesses about her ambitions that are tied to their own passions, although her brother watches as she completes her costume in a bedroom with a Mae Jemison poster, starry décor, and a telescope. There’s a celebratory mood at the culminating presentation, where Annie says she wants to “soar high through the air” like her basketball-playing mother, “explore faraway places” like her hiker dad, and “be brave and bold” like her baker grandmother (this feels forced, but oven mitts are part of her astronaut costume) so “the whole world will hear my exciting stories” like her reporter grandfather. Annie jumps off a chair to “BLAST OFF” in a small illustration superimposed on a larger picture depicting her floating in space with a reddish ground below. It’s unclear if Annie imagines this scene or if it’s her future-self exploring Mars, but either scenario fits the aspirational story. Backmatter provides further reading suggestions and information about the moon and four women astronauts, one of whom is Jemison. Annie and her family are all black.

A solid, small step for diversifying STEM stories. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 6, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-88448-523-0

Page Count: 36

Publisher: Tilbury House

Review Posted Online: Feb. 3, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2018

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