Textually purposeful and visually appealing, this may be useful to caregivers seeking to reinforce both positive traits and...

FROM TREE TO SEA

Qualities found in nature are extolled and parallels drawn to strengths that can help children (and adults) face and overcome challenges.

Thomas’ first-person narration, which some listeners may find preachy and distant, seems intended to represent the voices of the various children pictured throughout. Their voices are similar, however, as each describes the ways that natural elements teach resilience, strength, and bravery, among other characteristics. Trees, for example, “show me how to stand tall,” while “Stones show me how to be strong.” The smoothly written, extremely earnest text is leavened by occasional wordplay: “Oceans show me how to travel far and wide. / I see all there is to see, / but I always return / with a friendly wave.” Neal’s double-page spreads, created in mixed-media and digital, have an appealingly childlike feel and are enlivened by some unexpected perspectives. The progress from day to night and back to dawn offers a logical flow, and a nighttime scene of a tiny boat floating above the shadow of an enormous whale among the reflections of stars and moon is particularly arresting. Characters are depicted with a range of skin tones, and a few glimpses of far-off skyscrapers add a hint of urban flavor to the mostly pastoral settings, but no particular cultural or ethnic group or geographical location is identified.

Textually purposeful and visually appealing, this may be useful to caregivers seeking to reinforce both positive traits and an appreciation for nature, but it’s unlikely to engender much enthusiasm without this kind of deliberate endorsement. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Feb. 12, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4814-9531-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Paula Wiseman/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Sept. 30, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2018

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A retro-futuristic romp, literally and figuratively screwy.

ROBOBABY

Robo-parents Diode and Lugnut present daughter Cathode with a new little brother—who requires, unfortunately, some assembly.

Arriving in pieces from some mechanistic version of Ikea, little Flange turns out to be a cute but complicated tyke who immediately falls apart…and then rockets uncontrollably about the room after an overconfident uncle tinkers with his basic design. As a squad of helpline techies and bevies of neighbors bearing sludge cake and like treats roll in, the cluttered and increasingly crowded scene deteriorates into madcap chaos—until at last Cath, with help from Roomba-like robodog Sprocket, stages an intervention by whisking the hapless new arrival off to a backyard workshop for a proper assembly and software update. “You’re such a good big sister!” warbles her frazzled mom. Wiesner’s robots display his characteristic clean lines and even hues but endearingly look like vaguely anthropomorphic piles of random jet-engine parts and old vacuum cleaners loosely connected by joints of armored cable. They roll hither and thither through neatly squared-off panels and pages in infectiously comical dismay. Even the end’s domestic tranquility lasts only until Cathode spots the little box buried in the bigger one’s packing material: “TWINS!” (This book was reviewed digitally with 9-by-22-inch double-page spreads viewed at 52% of actual size.)

A retro-futuristic romp, literally and figuratively screwy. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-544-98731-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Clarion

Review Posted Online: June 3, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2020

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This earnest Latino first-grader who overcomes obstacles and solves mysteries is a winning character

PEDRO, FIRST-GRADE HERO

From the Pedro series , Vol. 1

The creators of the Katie Woo series turn their focus to a peripheral character, first-grader Pedro—Katie’s friend and schoolmate.

Four short chapters—“Pedro Goes Buggy,” “Pedro’s Big Goal,” “Pedro’s Mystery Club,” and “Pedro For President”—highlight a Latino main character surrounded by a superbly diverse cast. At times unsure of himself, Pedro is extremely likable, for he wants to do his best and is a fair friend. He consistently comes out on top, even when his younger brother releases all the bugs he’s captured for a class assignment or when self-assured bully Roddy tries to unite opposition to Pedro’s female opponent (Katie Woo) in the race for first-grade class president. Using a third-person, past-tense narrative voice, Manushkin expands her repertoire by adding a hero comparable to EllRay Jakes. What is refreshing about the book is that for the most part, aside from Roddy’s gender-based bullying, the book overcomes boy-girl stereotypes: girls and boys play soccer, boys and girls run for president, girls and boys hunt for bugs, all setting a progressive standard for chapter books. With mixed-media illustrations featuring colorful bugs, soccer action, a mystery hunt, and a presidential campaign, Lyon’s attention to detail in color and facial expressions complements the story nicely.

This earnest Latino first-grader who overcomes obstacles and solves mysteries is a winning character . (Fiction. 5-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-5158-0112-2

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Picture Window Books

Review Posted Online: June 1, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2016

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