LOOKING DOWN

Torn- and cut-paper collage pictures without words begin with a view of the earth from distant outer space and, with each turn of the page, zoom in toward the planet. Readers see the earth from the moon; moving down into the atmosphere, the North American coastline comes into view. That becomes an aerial view of a landscapemountains, rivers, fields, and a town. The approach to a town is shown in a series of rather realistic images that look like photographs taken from the window of an airplane coming in for a landing. Each picture represents the enlargement of a portion of the previous picture, seeming to click in closer so that new details appear each time, but their location can be traced back through the preceding pages; this process makes readers pause again and again to examine the illustrations more closely. Finally, a group of houses gives way to one house, in front of which a boy kneels, scrutinizing a ladybug through a magnifying glass. A huge close-up of the insect is the last picture in the book. The illustrations have been honed to map-like precision; reading this book forces an understanding of how different maps fit together. As with Banyai's Zoom (p. 220) and Re-Zoom (see review, above), Jenkins's original idea may have been to hurtle viewers in the direction he chose (in this case, ever closer to the scene), but the book reads equally well backwards. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-395-72665-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1995

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COUNT DOWN TO FALL

Beginning with the number ten, Hawk’s verses count down different tree leaves/seeds in all their fall glory. “Nine dogwood leaves / bright shining scarlet, / drifting down, down, down— / like the tail of a comet.” While the text is problematic—there are rhyme and scansion issues and one page does not name the tree featured at all—Neidigh’s illustrations do not disappoint. Detailed borders include close-up views of the bark of each tree while corners depict the whole tree, the leaves (both summer and fall colors) and the seeds. Woodland animals round out each spread, in which readers can count the leaves. Most are very clear, but extra objects may occasionally confuse readers. Backmatter gives readers a chance to test their knowledge of plant parts, categorize leaves according to their shape, match summer and fall leaves and learn how people and animals use some of the trees featured in the text. The visual details make this a delight to the eye, but unfortunately the verses are not music to the ear. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: July 10, 2009

ISBN: 978-1-934359-94-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sylvan Dell

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2009

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A mind-stretching outlook that may help youngsters with change—and will certainly cause them to think.

THE END IS JUST THE BEGINNING

A cyclical take on life.

Endings can sometimes feel sad or heavy in their finality. But Bender reverses this perspective. In fact, the story starts, as a tiny caterpillar tells readers, with “THE END.” A young tot on a bed closing a book looks puzzled. Bender acknowledges the absurdity. “But wait—how can a book possibly start with the end? That’s ridiculous.” It’s not, once you change your frame of reference. Continuing in a conversational tone, Bender gives examples. Some are personal and immediate: “The end of a disagreement with someone … / is just the beginning of making up.” Others are more abstract: “When you count, the end of one number is just the beginning of the next number… / and so on and so on and so on, all the way to infinity, which, by the way, NEVER ends!” Two friends or perhaps siblings (one with brown skin and brown hair in two Afro puffs, the other with pale skin and straight, black hair) act out the scenarios, which are strung together over the course of a day from one morning to the next. Mayo’s illustrations also dance between concrete and abstract, illustrating disagreement with one kid scowling, sitting back to the other, who looks distressed, next to a ruined sand castle and infinity with an image of the two kids cycling along an enormous infinity sign. In a meta-infused closing, Bender concludes with “THE BEGINNING / (of discovering the next book).” A cleverly placed butterfly flits away. The hazy wash over muted tones gives a warm, cozy embrace to the message. (This book was reviewed digitally with 9-by-18-inch double-page spreads viewed at 48.2% of actual size.)

A mind-stretching outlook that may help youngsters with change—and will certainly cause them to think. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: April 20, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-984896-93-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: March 2, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2021

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