A gentle, appropriate answer to a perennial question.

THE BABY TREE

When a small boy learns a baby’s coming to his family, he wonders where it’s coming from.

In words and pictures, the unnamed narrator’s imagination builds a variety of possibilities from the pat responses to his query he gets from a teenage friend, a teacher, the mailman and his grandfather. Finally, he asks his parents. Their simple explanation about a seed, an egg and birth in a hospital helps him see that all the other answers (except for Grandpa’s story about the stork) were partially right. As she did in Are You Awake? (2011), Blackall captures the natures of children’s curiosity and family conversations. Her ink-and-watercolor illustrations include plenty of white space. They show the rosy-cheeked boy engaged in typical kid activities at home, at school and while visiting his grandfather. His question is not burning, but time passes and he gets more and more confused. (And his mother gets visibly pregnant.) The pacing is leisurely and the tone gently humorous, and the answer includes no anatomical details. Modern in its imagery (both parents have smartphones plugged in by the bed), this is just right for initiating a conversation with a 4- to 6-year-old child. A final page for parents covers less typical family situations: twins, adoption and single-sex couples.

A gentle, appropriate answer to a perennial question. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: May 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-399-25718-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Nancy Paulsen Books

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2014

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

PIRATES DON'T TAKE BATHS

Echoes of Runaway Bunny color this exchange between a bath-averse piglet and his patient mother. Using a strategy that would probably be a nonstarter in real life, the mother deflects her stubborn offspring’s string of bath-free occupational conceits with appeals to reason: “Pirates NEVER EVER take baths!” “Pirates don’t get seasick either. But you do.” “Yeesh. I’m an astronaut, okay?” “Well, it is hard to bathe in zero gravity. It’s hard to poop and pee in zero gravity too!” And so on, until Mom’s enticing promise of treasure in the deep sea persuades her little Treasure Hunter to take a dive. Chunky figures surrounded by lots of bright white space in Segal’s minimally detailed watercolors keep the visuals as simple as the plotline. The language isn’t quite as basic, though, and as it rendered entirely in dialogue—Mother Pig’s lines are italicized—adult readers will have to work hard at their vocal characterizations for it to make any sense. Moreover, younger audiences (any audiences, come to that) may wonder what the piggy’s watery closing “EUREKA!!!” is all about too. Not particularly persuasive, but this might coax a few young porkers to get their trotters into the tub. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: March 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-399-25425-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: Jan. 26, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2011

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

An interesting premise but the execution is underwhelming.

STELLA KEEPS THE SUN UP

Stella hates going to bed, so she and her best buddy attempt to prevent the sun from setting.

Imaginative Stella, a young Black girl with Afro puffs, misses her friend Kamrynn, a light-skinned, straight-haired girl who has moved to “the other side of the world.” Luckily, Stella still has her best pal Roger, a blue hippo stuffie. Neither Stella nor Roger like sleeping: “Why do we have to miss all the fun and go to bed just because it gets dark?” Deciding that “if it never gets dark, then we can stay awake forever,” the duo work tirelessly to “keep the sun awake.” They play loud music, shine flashlights at the sun, and even make various attempts to launch a cup of coffee up to the celestial orb in hopes that caffeine will keep it alert. Eventually, the pair quit when they realize that if the sun never sets for them, morning can never come for Kamrynn, who wakes up when they go to bed. Despite the book’s sweet touches, the narrative is weakened by some meandering irrelevancies that make the plot feel disconnected. Also, at the beginning of the story, Stella seems enamored of the moon—she wishes she could jump high enough to kiss it—yet she and Roger spend the bulk of the book trying to prevent nightfall; this discrepancy may give some readers pause. The digital, cartoonlike illustrations are bright, colorful, and cheerful but don’t make up for the shaky plotting.

An interesting premise but the execution is underwhelming. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: March 8, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-5344-8785-7

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Denene Millner Books/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Jan. 12, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2022

Did you like this book?

more