These unflappable characters provide likable, positive role models for readers young and old, who may then enjoy sharing...

GEORGE FLIES SOUTH

Helicopter moms have not fared well in print—until now.

The parent starring in this light-hearted saga is nurturing a timid fledgling. When the autumnal leaves start to fall, young George still has not tested his wings. Cognizant of both the seasonal pull to head south and her son’s fear of flying, the mother bird calmly opts to address his more immediate need—hunger. In the instant that she is off foraging, however, the wind lifts the nest out of the tree, and George appears exhilarated by the seemingly secure flight. The tension of the separation is short-lived, as mama bird quickly responds, although all she can do is fly nearby, shouting advice as the nest is transported by a car, a barge and a load of lumber. Ultimately, a crisis with a cat leads to the nest’s destruction. James employs sequential panels and single-page compositions until the climax, when a double-spread depicts the triumphant learner. Fluid lines and breezy watercolor washes complement the low-key parenting style: This mama hovers patiently, mixing admonishment with encouragement. George, for his part, manages to listen, communicate his feelings and keep trying.

These unflappable characters provide likable, positive role models for readers young and old, who may then enjoy sharing Mordicai Gerstein’s Leaving the Nest (2007), in which several species spread their wings. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-7636-5724-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Aug. 3, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2011

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Aspirational—but not quite ascending to the inspirational.

MY VOICE IS A TRUMPET

Explores different ways one’s voice can be used.

The unidentified narrator begins by chronicling different types of voices: “loud and proud,” “soft and sweet,” “patient and wise,” and more. The Deaf community is included in both text and art, and sign language is alluded to: “There’s a voice that is silent / but STILL CAN BE HEARD / with hands that move / to speak EVERY word.” The vibrant, colorful art presents an array of children of different races and skin tones. Unfortunately, this well-meaning book does not cohere. The art in some spreads does not appear to augment or even connect to the text. For example, the lines “I’LL SAY NO TO HATE / by using this voice / and ALWAYS CHOOSE LOVE— / a magical choice” are illustrated with a spread of four children: one playing the trumpet, another singing, one with a drum major’s hat and baton, and the final child skateboarding. Readers may be confused by how these images apply to the text since they have no direct relation to saying no to hate or choosing love. Spreads with children holding protest signs feel disconnected to the present moment with no Black Lives Matter or BLM–related signs depicted. Some text excludes nonbinary children, asserting “we’re SISTERS / and BROTHERS.”

Aspirational—but not quite ascending to the inspirational. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: July 13, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-35218-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Flamingo Books

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2021

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Exciting artwork paired with disappointingly dull text.

KINDNESS GROWS

Rhyming verses about kindness using a consistent metaphor of widening cracks versus blooming plants are amplified by cutouts on each page.

The art and layout are spectacular, from the cover through the double-page spreads near the end. Racially diverse toddlers are shown engaging in various moods and behaviors, some of which create unhappiness and some of which lead to friendship and happiness. Every page’s color palette and composition perfectly complement the narrative. The initial verso shows two children in aggressive stances, backgrounded by a dark, partly moonlit sky. Between them is a slender, crooked cutout. The large-type text reads: “It all / starts / with a / crack / that we can hardly see. / It happens when we shout / or if we disagree.” The recto shows two children in sunlight, with one offering a pretty leaf to the other, and the rhyme addresses the good that grows from kindness. In this image, the crooked die cut forms the trunk of a tiny sapling. Until the final double-page spreads, the art follows this clever setup: dark deeds and a crack on the left, and good deeds and a growing tree on the right. Unfortunately, the text is far from the equal of the art: It is banal and preachy, and it does not even scan well without some effort on the part of whomever is reading it. Still, the youngest children will solemnly agree with the do’s and don’ts, and they may decide to memorize a page or two.

Exciting artwork paired with disappointingly dull text. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Sept. 22, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-68010-229-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Tiger Tales

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2020

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