THE MEMORY OF AN ELEPHANT

AN UNFORGETTABLE JOURNEY

Part character study, part encyclopedic indulgence in odd facts, this is one quirky French import.

An oversized hardcover format triggers the knowledge that this is no ordinary picture book. Marcel the elephant strides purposefully (on two feet) across the cover toward the opening of the book while carrying an assortment of things and dressed in dapper clothing. The book goes on to reveal aspects of Marcel’s character from one spread to the next: He is a gourmand, he’s fastidious, he’s something of a clotheshorse; all combined, he’s a definite Renaissance pachyderm who takes interest in all that surrounds him. Narrative text reveals these attributes while illustrations and sidebar commentary detail his interests, belongings and such. On several spreads, one facing page is devoted to Marcel while the other broadens the scope of that spread’s particular focus—for example when readers learn of Marcel’s musical interests he stands with a tuba on the recto, while the verso seems like a catalog page with bordered entries on everything from a sitar to the bagpipes. The book as a whole ends up seeming like broad brushes at quirky worldbuilding or a book for perusing rather than reading as a story. The contents, while separately amusing, lack narrative cohesion and culminate in a recipe for “La crêpe marcelette (with banana!)”

Bananas, indeed. (glossary, designer key, cast of characters) (Picture book. 8-10)

Pub Date: July 13, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4521-2903-7

Page Count: 44

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: July 29, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2014

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Move over Ramona Quimby, Portland has another neighbor you have to meet!

WAYS TO MAKE SUNSHINE

From the Ryan Hart series , Vol. 1

Ryan Hart is navigating the fourth grade and all its challenges with determination.

Her mom named her Ryan because it means “king,” and she wanted Ryan to feel powerful every time she heard her name; Ryan knows it means she is a leader. So when changes occur or disaster strikes, budding chef Ryan does her best to find the positive and “make sunshine.” When her dad is laid off from the post office, the family must make adjustments that include moving into a smaller house, selling their car, and changing how they shop for groceries. But Ryan gets to stay at Vernon Elementary, and her mom still finds a way to get her the ingredients she needs to practice new recipes. Her older brother, Ray, can be bossy, but he finds little ways to support her, especially when she is down—as does the whole family. Each episodic chapter confronts Ryan with a situation; intermittently funny, frustrating, and touching, they should be familiar and accessible to readers, as when Ryan fumbles her Easter speech despite careful practice. Ryan, her family, and friends are Black, and Watson continues to bring visibility to both Portland, Oregon, generally and its Black community specifically, making another wonderful contribution that allows Black readers to see themselves and all readers to find a character they can love.

Move over Ramona Quimby, Portland has another neighbor you have to meet! (Fiction. 8-10)

Pub Date: April 28, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5476-0056-4

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: Jan. 21, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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A dramatic, educational, authentic whale of a tale.

A WHALE OF THE WILD

After a tsunami devastates their habitat in the Salish Sea, a young orca and her brother embark on a remarkable adventure.

Vega’s matriarchal family expects her to become a hunter and wayfinder, with her younger brother, Deneb, protecting and supporting her. Invited to guide her family to their Gathering Place to hunt salmon, Vega’s underwater miscalculations endanger them all, and an embarrassed Vega questions whether she should be a wayfinder. When the baby sister she hoped would become her life companion is stillborn, a distraught Vega carries the baby away to a special resting place, shocking her grieving family. Dispatched to find his missing sister, Deneb locates Vega in the midst of a terrible tsunami. To escape the waters polluted by shattered boats, Vega leads Deneb into unfamiliar open sea. Alone and hungry, the young siblings encounter a spectacular giant whale and travel briefly with shark-hunting orcas. Trusting her instincts and gaining emotional strength from contemplating the vastness of the sky, Vega knows she must lead her brother home and help save her surviving family. In alternating first-person voices, Vega and Deneb tell their harrowing story, engaging young readers while educating them about the marine ecosystem. Realistic black-and-white illustrations enhance the maritime setting.

A dramatic, educational, authentic whale of a tale. (maps, wildlife facts, tribes of the Salish Sea watershed, environmental and geographical information, how to help orcas, author’s note, artist’s note, resources) (Animal fiction. 8-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-299592-6

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Review Posted Online: July 1, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2020

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