A worthwhile snapshot of a family that delights in its international and cross-cultural ties

Eleven relatives from two countries gather under one sun for a wild (literally) birthday bash.

Robinson, author of many acclaimed books about her famous father, Jackie Robinson, writes in this true story about her mother, Rachel (known as Bibi to the grandchildren). Here, she celebrates her 85th birthday on safari in Tanzania with her son and daughter-in-law and their seven children. Though David Robinson (the author’s brother) grew up in Connecticut, he has made his home in Tanzania since 1984, making this celebration a rare opportunity for family togetherness. Over its course, readers will absorb a few words of Swahili, the mother tongue of the grandchildren, and also learn about slavery in Tanzania’s history. The gazelles, lions, giraffes and elephants the family sees on safari, though, will likely upstage the book’s history lessons. Given the number of children and the unfamiliar names of several of them (Nubia, Busaro, Saburi), readers would do well to study the photographs that appear in the backmatter prior to reading the story. In fact, the photographs of the family’s shopping for and cooking a Tanzanian meal may appeal to some readers more than Ford’s acrylic-and-oil illustrations since they vividly represent the beauty of the country and feature mounds of freshly cut pineapples and heaps of interesting market-fresh fare.

A worthwhile snapshot of a family that delights in its international and cross-cultural ties . (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-545-16672-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Oct. 22, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2013



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

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