Readers will be eager to see more of this spunky, confident, daring character.

THE MISSING HAMSTER

From the Beatrice Bly's Rules for Spies series , Vol. 1

Beatrice Bly, super spy, uses her practiced skills to solve the mysterious disappearance of her classroom’s pet hamster.

Bea is a seasoned sleuth with specific rules about how she conducts her important work. She never reveals her spy identity (except to best friend Nora), observes and records everything, and works quietly. On the morning when Miss Leland announces that Edgar is missing from his cage, Bea begins to explore a hunch or two, discussing with Nora where Edgar might be found on school grounds. Taking note of the teachers’ special luncheon that day and recalling that Edgar loves to eat fruits and veggies, Bea undertakes a secret mission during recess, searching the halls, where she finds a specific clue that leads to a happy conclusion. Expressive cartoon artwork depicts a contemporary school setting with a diverse population—Miss Leland has brown skin, and Nora presents Asian. Beatrice is White and behaves quite boldly, with dark glasses, a listening device, and stealth poses (often depicted in multiple iterations in a spread). The linear narrative moves the intrigue along through conversations between Nora and Bea while her detective dexterity brings her closer to resolution. Piecing together the evidence will be obvious to some, but the fun will be in watching Bea perform in her chosen vocation. (This book was reviewed digitally with 11-by-18-inch double-page spreads viewed at 50% of actual size.)

Readers will be eager to see more of this spunky, confident, daring character. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: April 6, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-64595-028-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Pixel+Ink

Review Posted Online: March 2, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2021

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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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