This home-away-home story takes flight with its poetic text and a few extraordinary seascape illustrations.

READ REVIEW

AN OWL AT SEA

Based on an actual occurrence, this picture book tells the story of a short-eared owl—a marsh and field dweller—that lands on an oil-drilling platform far out in the ocean.

An owl is found on the deck of an oil rig in the North Sea, miles from its native habitat of fields and marshes. The exhausted bird is cared for by the riggers until a helicopter bringing in the new work shift and supplies takes the owl back to land and to a bird-rescue facility. There, the owl is cared for and eventually released back into the wild. This simple home-away-home story is delivered in author Vande Griek’s emotive, poetic text, the spare words of which, surrounded by the white of the page, conjure up a powerful sense of place and action: “No place to rest, / no mouse to hear, / only the swing, / the roar / of the sea.” Illustrator Wallace’s command of the difficult watercolor technique in depicting the powerful heave and growl of the sea is exquisite—the two full-page bleeds of open ocean seascapes (some crossing the gutter) delight the eye. Alas, the illustrations depicting the oil rig and its somewhat racially diverse workers are less graceful, competent but not transcendent. The final page gives an informative overview of the habits of short-eared owls and lists sources and further reading.

This home-away-home story takes flight with its poetic text and a few extraordinary seascape illustrations. (Picture book. 3-8)

Pub Date: May 7, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-77306-111-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Groundwood

Review Posted Online: Feb. 13, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2019

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A $16.99 Mother’s Day card for cat lovers.

MOMMIES ARE AMAZING

The team of Costain and Lovšin (Daddies are Awesome, 2016) gives moms their due.

Rhyming verses tell of all the ways moms are amazing: “Mommies are magic. / They kiss away troubles… // …find gold in the sunlight / and rainbows in bubbles.” Moms are joyful—the best playmates. They are also fearless and will protect and soothe if you are scared. Clever moms know just what to do when you’re sad, sporty moms run and leap and climb, while tender moms cuddle. “My mommy’s so special. / I tell her each day… // … just how much I love her / in every way!” Whereas dads were illustrated with playful pups and grown-up dogs in the previous book, moms are shown as cats with their kittens in myriad colors, sizes, and breeds. Lovšin’s cats look as though they are smiling at each other in their fun, though several spreads are distractingly cut in half by the gutter. However delightful the presentation—the verse rolls fairly smoothly, and the cats are pretty cute—the overall effect is akin to a cream puff’s: very sweet and insubstantial.

A $16.99 Mother’s Day card for cat lovers. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: April 4, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-62779-651-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: March 20, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2017

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For many readers, uneasy optics will take the fun out of this romp.

LLAMA UNLEASHES THE ALPACALYPSE

From the Llama Book series

Llamas, alpacas, and clones—oh my!

In this sequel to Llama Destroys the World (2019), hapless Llama once again wreaks unintentional, large-scale havoc—but this time, he (sort of) saves the day, too. After making an epic breakfast (and epic mess), Llama decides to build a machine that will enable him to avoid cleaning up. No, not a vacuum or dishwasher: It’s a machine that Llama uses to clone his friend “of impeccable tidiness,” Alpaca, in order to create an “army of cleaners.” Cream-colored Llama and light-brown Alpaca, both male, are pear shaped with short, stubby legs, bland expressions, and bulging eyes. Paired with the cartoon illustrations, the text’s comic timing shines: “Llama invited Alpaca over for lunch. / Llama invited Alpaca into the Replicator 3000. / And then, Llama invited disaster.” Soon the house is full of smiling Alpacas in purple scalloped aprons, single-mindedly cleaning—and, as one might expect, things don’t go as planned. Mealtimes (i.e. “second lunch” and dinner) offer opportunities for the “alpacalypse” to emerge from Llama’s house into the wider world. Everyday life grinds to a halt as the myriad Alpacas bearing mops, dusters, and plungers continue their cleaning crusade with no signs of stopping. That is, until the Alpacas realize they are hungry….It’s all very funny, but the sight of the paler-coated Llama exploiting the darker-coated Alpaca, for whom nothing brings “more joy than cleaning,” is an uncomfortable one.

For many readers, uneasy optics will take the fun out of this romp. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: May 5, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-22285-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2020

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