An easily digestible fable with a simple moral and added classroom value as a natural science add-on.

THE LEGEND OF THE BEAVER'S TAIL

Shaw puts an ecological spin on an Ojibwa fable about pride and its consequences.

Instead of joining obnoxious Beaver in admiring his big, fuzzy tail, Bird, Deer and Fish go off about their businesses—and so are not around when a tree falls on it. Dragging the tail free leaves it flat and furless. Repenting both pride and bad behavior, Beaver works busily on building a dam as winter comes, and when he apologizes to his animal friends in spring, they commend him for leaving twigs for Bird’s nest, clearing woodland spaces for Deer’s forage to grow, and creating a warm pond for Fish. Along with adding this last part to traditional versions—and explaining in an afterword that beavers, as a “keystone species,” actually perform these functions in woodland ecosystems—the author retells the tale in contemporary language. “I’m just saying,” Beaver informs Fish, “this tail of mine is absolutely the most magnificent tail a creature could have.” Mirroring the changing seasons with a rich color scheme, van Frankenhuyzen poses large, realistically rendered animal figures in idyllic outdoor settings. He communicates Beaver’s emotional state largely through body language, though a few subtle facial expressions occasionally sneak in. There is no sourcing aside from the statement that the story is from the Ojibwa tradition.

An easily digestible fable with a simple moral and added classroom value as a natural science add-on. (Picture book/folk tale. 6-8)

Pub Date: April 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-58536-898-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sleeping Bear Press

Review Posted Online: Jan. 20, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2015

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A lesson that never grows old, enacted with verve by two favorite friends

WAITING IS NOT EASY!

From the Elephant & Piggie series

Gerald the elephant learns a truth familiar to every preschooler—heck, every human: “Waiting is not easy!”

When Piggie cartwheels up to Gerald announcing that she has a surprise for him, Gerald is less than pleased to learn that the “surprise is a surprise.” Gerald pumps Piggie for information (it’s big, it’s pretty, and they can share it), but Piggie holds fast on this basic principle: Gerald will have to wait. Gerald lets out an almighty “GROAN!” Variations on this basic exchange occur throughout the day; Gerald pleads, Piggie insists they must wait; Gerald groans. As the day turns to twilight (signaled by the backgrounds that darken from mauve to gray to charcoal), Gerald gets grumpy. “WE HAVE WASTED THE WHOLE DAY!…And for WHAT!?” Piggie then gestures up to the Milky Way, which an awed Gerald acknowledges “was worth the wait.” Willems relies even more than usual on the slightest of changes in posture, layout and typography, as two waiting figures can’t help but be pretty static. At one point, Piggie assumes the lotus position, infuriating Gerald. Most amusingly, Gerald’s elephantine groans assume weighty physicality in spread-filling speech bubbles that knock Piggie to the ground. And the spectacular, photo-collaged images of the Milky Way that dwarf the two friends makes it clear that it was indeed worth the wait.

A lesson that never grows old, enacted with verve by two favorite friends . (Early reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 4, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4231-9957-1

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Nov. 5, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2014

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“It’s time to head back home,” the narrator concludes. “You’ve touched the Earth in so many ways.” Who knew it would be so...

TOUCH THE EARTH

From the Julian Lennon White Feather Flier Adventure series , Vol. 1

A pro bono Twinkie of a book invites readers to fly off in a magic plane to bring clean water to our planet’s oceans, deserts, and brown children.

Following a confusingly phrased suggestion beneath a soft-focus world map to “touch the Earth. Now touch where you live,” a shake of the volume transforms it into a plane with eyes and feathered wings that flies with the press of a flat, gray “button” painted onto the page. Pressing like buttons along the journey releases a gush of fresh water from the ground—and later, illogically, provides a filtration device that changes water “from yucky to clean”—for thirsty groups of smiling, brown-skinned people. At other stops, a tap on the button will “help irrigate the desert,” and touching floating bottles and other debris in the ocean supposedly makes it all disappear so the fish can return. The 20 children Coh places on a globe toward the end are varied of skin tone, but three of the four young saviors she plants in the flier’s cockpit as audience stand-ins are white. The closing poem isn’t so openly parochial, though it seldom rises above vague feel-good sentiments: “Love the Earth, the moon and sun. / All the children can be one.”

“It’s time to head back home,” the narrator concludes. “You’ve touched the Earth in so many ways.” Who knew it would be so easy to clean the place up and give everyone a drink? (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: April 11, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-5107-2083-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Sky Pony Press

Review Posted Online: Feb. 4, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2017

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