Bright, childlike illustrations and appended facts about the universe can’t save this less-than-stellar ride.

SPACE SONG ROCKET RIDE

A group of friends blasts off in an imaginary rocket to space in a text set to the tune of “The Green Grass Grows All Around.”

Three kids, plus a few animal companions, make a rocket ship out of a cardboard box. Suddenly, they are in space with stars and planets all around them! The text can be sung along with the accompanying CD (which also has an animation of the book that can be viewed on a computer). It follows the tune well enough (some quick blurring of syllables sometimes helps), but it is puzzling as to why it was set to music in the first place. The chorus is of course fun to belt out: “And the bright stars shine all around, all around, / And the bright stars shine all around.” But the rest is just a string of facts, squeezed to fit the song. The song descends from the Milky Way to the solar system to its eight planets to the Earth and then back out to the moon and the stars. It’s likely the book would have to be read (and the CD played or watched) multiple times before the facts sink in, so compressed are they to fit the tune: “And around that earth / orbits a moon. / Turning every month, / tugging at the tides.” Any storytime rendition would rely heavily on the excitement of the chorus alone.

Bright, childlike illustrations and appended facts about the universe can’t save this less-than-stellar ride. (Informational picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-78285-097-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Barefoot Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 12, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2014

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A TREE IS NICE

A nursery school approach to a general concept. "A tree is nice"- Why? Because..."We can climb the tree...play pirate ship...pick the apples...build playhouses out of the leaves. A tree is nice to hang a swing in...Birds build nests in trees... Sticks come off trees...People have picnics there too"...etc. etc. One follows the give and take of a shared succession of reactions to what a tree- or trees- can mean. There is a kind of poetic simplicity that is innate in small children. Marc Simont has made the pictures, half in full color, and they too have a childlike directness (with an underlying sophistication that adults will recognize). Not a book for everyone -but those who like it will like it immensely. The format (6 x 11) makes it a difficult book for shelving, so put it in the "clean hands" section of flat books. Here's your first book for Arbor Day use- a good spring and summer item.

Pub Date: June 15, 1956

ISBN: 978-0-06-443147-7

Page Count: 36

Publisher: Harper

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1956

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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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