A thoughtful contemplation on how our actions affect life on our planet.

ONE BOY'S CHOICE

A TALE OF THE AMAZON

In this story translated from German and set in the Amazon jungle, a boy and his grandfather go on an all-day fishing outing.

A young boy looks forward to going fishing with his grandfather and to bringing home a big fish that he hopes will put an end to his being laughed at by his friends. Exuberant illustrations that overflow their pages set the stage for the story. Grandad and child—who appear to be Indigenous—navigate their canoe through lush mangroves and past the magnificent Victoria amazonica lily pads as enormous fish swim beneath them. As they set their bait and wait, then wait some more, then move on to another spot and cast their net, Grandad tells the boy stories of the different fish that live under the water lilies. When they eventually catch a big arowana, the boy is dismayed when his grandfather wants to release it. The male arowana carry their young in their mouths, so catching the adult fish implies killing its young as well. Grandad tells the boy “You must decide what is more important—taking the fish to show your friends, or letting this dad and his children live peacefully in the great river.” For another glimpse at life in the Amazon rainforest, read also Along the Tapajós by Fernando Vilela and translated by Daniel Hahn (2019).

A thoughtful contemplation on how our actions affect life on our planet. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-988-8342-01-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Minedition

Review Posted Online: May 3, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2020

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A quiet, thought-provoking story of environmental change and the power humans have to slow it.

THE OLD BOAT

A multigenerational tale of a boat’s life with a Black family, written by two brothers who loved similar boats.

In the opening spread, a smiling, brown-skinned adult dangles a line from the back of a green-and-white boat while a boy peers eagerly over the side at the sea life. The text never describes years passing, but each page turn reveals the boy’s aging, more urban development on the shore, increasing water pollution, marine-life changes (sea jellies abound on one page), and shifting water levels. Eventually, the boy, now a teenager, steers the boat, and as an adult, he fishes alone but must go farther and farther out to sea to make his catch. One day, the man loses his way, capsizes in a storm, and washes up on a small bay island, with the overturned, sunken boat just offshore. Now a “new sailor” cleans up the land and water with others’ help. The physical similarities between the shipwrecked sailor and the “new sailor” suggest that this is not a new person but one whose near-death experience has led to an epiphany that changes his relationship to water. As the decaying boat becomes a new marine habitat, the sailor teaches the next generation (a child with hair in two Afro puffs) to fish. Focusing primarily on the sea, the book’s earth-toned illustrations, created with hundreds of stamps, carry the compelling plot.

A quiet, thought-provoking story of environmental change and the power humans have to slow it. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-324-00517-9

Page Count: 56

Publisher: Norton Young Readers

Review Posted Online: Dec. 25, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2021

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A retro-futuristic romp, literally and figuratively screwy.

ROBOBABY

Robo-parents Diode and Lugnut present daughter Cathode with a new little brother—who requires, unfortunately, some assembly.

Arriving in pieces from some mechanistic version of Ikea, little Flange turns out to be a cute but complicated tyke who immediately falls apart…and then rockets uncontrollably about the room after an overconfident uncle tinkers with his basic design. As a squad of helpline techies and bevies of neighbors bearing sludge cake and like treats roll in, the cluttered and increasingly crowded scene deteriorates into madcap chaos—until at last Cath, with help from Roomba-like robodog Sprocket, stages an intervention by whisking the hapless new arrival off to a backyard workshop for a proper assembly and software update. “You’re such a good big sister!” warbles her frazzled mom. Wiesner’s robots display his characteristic clean lines and even hues but endearingly look like vaguely anthropomorphic piles of random jet-engine parts and old vacuum cleaners loosely connected by joints of armored cable. They roll hither and thither through neatly squared-off panels and pages in infectiously comical dismay. Even the end’s domestic tranquility lasts only until Cathode spots the little box buried in the bigger one’s packing material: “TWINS!” (This book was reviewed digitally with 9-by-22-inch double-page spreads viewed at 52% of actual size.)

A retro-futuristic romp, literally and figuratively screwy. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-544-98731-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Clarion Books

Review Posted Online: June 3, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2020

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