Choice words and creative visuals combine to celebrate and inspire the mind’s eye.

THE POWER OF HENRY'S IMAGINATION

A five-year-old’s imagination comes to his rescue when his stuffed rabbit goes missing.

Raspberry, a cuddly companion with large and expressive ears, was a gift from Grandpa to Henry on the day he was born; the two are inseparable. After the rabbit disappears and the house is turned upside down during the search, Grandpa’s “warm, knowledgeable voice” soothes the child, as does his suggestion to “imagine that you have Raspberry back!” George employs a minimalism that establishes an effective foil to the eventual blossoming of Henry’s interior world. Characters, furniture, and selected objects are formed with gentle lines of ink and filled with the color of the background—a softly textured surface that shifts across a spectrum, from gold to charcoal. In the opening scenes, a leafy branch, striped shirt, and muffin with jelly are among the collaged elements creating interest along the borders. As the theater of the child’s mind takes over, photographs of landscapes—filtered, to align with the subdued palette—are inserted. Then, artfully arranged salt concocts a snowcapped cave in which the boy and pet cook dinner; clothespins turn into crocodiles in a sea of fabric. Distracted with the pleasure of make-believe, the child even drifts off to sleep sans rabbit, although a special nocturnal delivery ensures a satisfying conclusion.

Choice words and creative visuals combine to celebrate and inspire the mind’s eye. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 20, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4814-0626-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Aladdin

Review Posted Online: June 29, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2015

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A good bet for the youngest bird-watchers.

MAMA BUILT A LITTLE NEST

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. 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2014

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A cozy story that will transport readers to faraway places.

A GIFT FOR NANA

All gifts are perfect when they come from the heart.

Rabbit goes on a “journey through a green and grand forest” in order to get a gift for his nana even though it is “not even a major hare holiday.” He travels very far in search of the perfect gift and encounters many new friends whom he asks for help. Each of them proffers Rabbit something they can easily make or acquire: The moon offers a “crescent smile,” a whale proposes a glass of water, and so on. Ultimately, Rabbit finds the perfect gift for Nana all on his own, and his nana absolutely adores it. Although the story is a bit predictable, it is amusing—readers will laugh at the anthropomorphic volcano’s explosion and Rabbit’s exhaustion from his journey, among other chucklesome scenes. Smith’s gesso, oil, and cold wax illustrations are exquisite and almost ethereal. The friendly, many-eyed creature referred to as a “stickler” is at once haunting and intriguing. The moon is Tim Burton–esque and seems to glow and pop off the page. Pleased with his choice of gift, Rabbit has the moon’s smile on his face. The predominance of full-bleed double-page spreads accentuates Rabbit’s long quest. The different font sizes, styles, and colors will aid emerging readers with diction when reading aloud but might prove difficult for those with dyslexia. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A cozy story that will transport readers to faraway places. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: April 12, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-43033-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Random House Studio

Review Posted Online: Jan. 25, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2022

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