The poetry may be hit and miss, but the concept is terrific and the illustrations similarly sublime.

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BETTER TOGETHER

A compendium of poems designed to teach the concept of mixing...and, of course, to entertain.

Each of the 13 verses is illustrated with a two-page spread, featuring mostly children doing the mixing. "Glue" shows them combining flour and water to make glue for a classroom art project—"Then mix them, squish them, squoosh them, / 'til you get a sticky goo." In "Bubbles," a girl blocks her brother, who wants to give the dog a bath in the washing machine, advising instead that they "Rub and scrub with soapy water, watch the bubbles fly." "Concrete" shows a workman putting sand, gravel, water and cement into the big mixer, as well as a trio of children putting their prints in the new sidewalk (one gets his shoes stuck): "Concrete starts all soft and slushy, / then gets hard—that's clever." Other topics include a makeshift Martian costume for Halloween, cinnamon toast, a ragtag soccer team, salad dressing, mud, music and bedtime; that is, the routine of checking under the bed, a bedtime story, hug and kiss, etc. "Just one more glass of water, / and one more time to pee, / and one more check beneath the bed / for monsters—wait for me." A brief, helpful afterword suggests teaching possibilities provided by the text.

The poetry may be hit and miss, but the concept is terrific and the illustrations similarly sublime. (Picture book. 3-6) 

Pub Date: June 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-55451-279-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Annick Press

Review Posted Online: May 4, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2011

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Lots of detail and complex vocabulary mean most young children won’t linger past check-in at this hotel; older children will...

BUG HOTEL

Bearing the tagline “A lift-the-flap book of discovery,” this board book for older children is meant to inspire garden explorations.

Its inviting house-shaped design with multiple peep-hole windows hints at what children will find inside. The first page explains that “A bug hotel is a multistory homemade habitat where creepy crawlies of all shapes and sizes can find a place to stay!” The benefits of providing accommodations for six different garden critters are then detailed, one per double-page spread. Information about each creature’s ideal environment and how humans can foster that habitat is behind the largest flap on each spread, which also includes a cutout through which the insect can be seen. “Snails come out mainly at night, so a dark and protected habitat helps to keep them cool, happy and safe from predators….” Smaller flaps discuss characteristics of each critter—pollination for bees, metamorphosis for butterflies, etc. The final spread reviews the various materials needed to attract different bugs to the garden. However, there are no instructions included or even websites to consult to assist readers in actually constructing a bug hotel. Birdhouse, published simultaneously using the same format, is somewhat more successful, possibly because birdhouses are more common.

Lots of detail and complex vocabulary mean most young children won’t linger past check-in at this hotel; older children will still need help from a caregiver or teacher . (Board book. 4-6)

Pub Date: June 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-61067-766-0

Page Count: 16

Publisher: Kane/Miller

Review Posted Online: June 11, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2018

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ALSO AN ANIMAL

In rhyming verse, a series of “if…then” statements presents animals and their young while expressing parental love.

Unfortunately, the slight concept is brought down by a number of missteps. The first is poor logic, evident from the opening parent-child animal pair: “If you were a calf, then I’d be a moose.” While it is true that baby moose are called calves, they are hardly the only animals whose young bear that moniker. Even children with very little exposure to the concept will likely know that baby cattle are also called calves, and they may well know that elephant and whale babies are called calves as well. So why, if they were a calf, would their parent necessarily be a moose? Several other examples share this weakness, including chicks (loons), kits (skunks), and pups (bats)—and these are just in the first two double-page spreads. Even when the name for the baby is sufficiently restrictive for the logic to work, stumbling verse often lets readers down: “If you were a cygnet, then I’d be a swan. / I’d teach you to ride on my back, just hop on!” Saylor’s cut-paper–collage illustrations are bright and attractive, depicting smiling but otherwise fairly realistic animal pairs. They replicate a frequent error, however, in representing a wasps’ nest instead of the beehive it’s meant to be (possibly wisely, there is no attempt to depict the “larva” of the verse).

Misses the mark . (Informational picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-61067-746-2

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Kane/Miller

Review Posted Online: June 11, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2018

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