Alive, bursting with color and action, this volume introduces Virginia Lee Burton to a new generation of big machine...




Virginia Lee Burton’s big machines roar to new life in a new biography of the author.

Rinker, author of Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site (2014; illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld), is right at home describing the life and times of big machines. “Ting, Ting, Ting!...CLINGETY-CLANG!” comes Maybelle the cable car. “CHUG! CHUG! CHUG!” says Katy the crawler tractor as she digs her way through a double-page spread of snow. Clearly a labor of love for Rocco, the illustrations demonstrate the same care for book design evident in Burton’s work. Endpapers depict Burton’s Little House encircled by big machines, an effect akin to the block-printed fabrics of the Folly Cove design group the illustrator worked with in Massachusetts. Rocco’s illustrations capture the look, personality, and energy of the machines without being overly imitative, and he offers playful departures, such as the final double-page spread featuring a spirited procession of Choo Choo, Mary Anne the steam shovel, Katy, and Maybelle as “their stories come to life…quite magically… / for Aris and Michael,” Burton’s sons, represented as her inspirations. The beautiful symbiosis of text and art works on several levels—as a biography, a study of the artist’s creative process, and a demonstration of the themes of change and survival evident in Burton’s picture books.

Alive, bursting with color and action, this volume introduces Virginia Lee Burton to a new generation of big machine enthusiasts. (author’s note) (Picture book/biography. 4-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-544-71557-8

Page Count: 48

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: June 14, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2017

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This ambitious introduction to an important concept tries too hard to pigeonhole people, places, and things


From the Word Adventures: Parts of Speech series

Anthropomorphized representations of a person, a place, and a thing introduce readers to nouns.

The protagonists are Person, a green, hairy, Cousin Itt–looking blob; Place, a round, blue, globe-ish being (stereotypically implied female by eyelashes and round pigtails); and Thing, a pink cloud with limbs, a porkpie hat, and red glasses. They first introduce the word “noun” and then start pointing out the nouns that fall under each of their categories. In their speech balloons, these vocabulary words are set in type that corresponds to the speaker’s color: “Each wheel is a thing noun,” says Thing, and “wheel” is set in red. Readers join the three as they visit a museum, pointing out the nouns they see along the way and introducing proper and collective nouns and ways to make nouns plural. Confusingly, though, Person labels the “bus driver” a “person noun” on one page, but two spreads later, Thing says “Abdar is a guard. Mrs. Mooney is a ticket taker. Their jobs are things that are also nouns.” Similarly, a group of athletes is a person noun—“team”—but “flock” and “pack” are things. Lowen’s digital illustrations portray a huge variety of people who display many skin and hair colors, differing abilities, and even religious and/or cultural markers (though no one is overweight). Backmatter includes a summary of noun facts, a glossary, an index (not seen), critical-thinking questions, and a list of further reading. Books on seven other parts of speech release simultaneously.

This ambitious introduction to an important concept tries too hard to pigeonhole people, places, and things . (Informational picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5158-4058-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Picture Window Books

Review Posted Online: May 12, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2019

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A multilayered, endearing treasure of a day.


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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For the dedicated nonfiction fan, this picture dictionary introduces media that are better experienced than described.


From the Little Leonardo's Fascinating World series

This entry in a series named for Leonardo da Vinci, an “original Renaissance man,” describes the many forms and functions of art in today’s world.

This colorful book shows very young children what art is and what different kinds of artists do. The author begins by listing several kinds of art as they appear in our lives, then describes historical art forms, such as cave painting and pottery design. Next, entire pages and spreads feature particular forms of art, artists, and materials, including sculpture, writing, drama, graphic design, architecture, and music. The role of computers in the creation of art today is mentioned, and readers are encouraged to imagine themselves as artists. The cartoon-style pictures show cheerful, ethnically diverse children in mainstream American settings creating art that often mirrors well-known pieces and styles of the Western tradition. A jazz band is included on the music page. An author’s note at the end of the book introduces six great artists of the past; three of these are women, but five of the six are white. While children throughout the book are representative of America’s diversity, readers will have to look elsewhere for inclusion of diverse contributions to the world of art. Volumes on math and science are similarly formulated but wordier. A page on anthropology in the science volume assumes a cultural perspective that all readers may not share.

For the dedicated nonfiction fan, this picture dictionary introduces media that are better experienced than described. (glossary, author’s note) (Nonfiction. 4-8)

Pub Date: March 13, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4236-4873-4

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Gibbs Smith

Review Posted Online: Dec. 21, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2018

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