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THE UNIVERSE AND YOU

Lovely and versatile.

While “you” sleep, the Earth spins and travels through space.

After a wordless spread showing the Earth in deep space, the story cuts to a brown-skinned child with puffy hair in bed hugging a stuffed astronaut toy. The bedroom is decorated in a planetary theme, and a caregiver smiles over the child as “Daylight dims. / Darkness tiptoes in. / You’re tucked in tight / for a warm, cozy night.” The next spread shows the house from the outside, with the starry night behind it, and the text zooms out as well, to the spinning of the Earth. As the pages turn, the Earth circles our sun, our sun swirls around the Milky Way, and the universe expands. Throughout these spreads, the universe is related to the child with reminders that all of this activity happens “while you still sleep, / dreaming even bigger dreams.” Finally, the sun peeks above the horizon, warming the Earth’s creatures, and “you” stir and rise, ready to play. Nicely textured, layered illustrations give an almost 3-D feel to the Earth floating in deep space. The text is composed of succinct verse that, from the beginning, effortlessly conveys the magical bedtime tone, though it ends on a relatively active note. Cozy, thought-provoking, and hypnotizing, this poetic pleaser will pair well with other soothing bedtime books but can also be read and discussed during an active time of day.

Lovely and versatile. (notes) (Picture book. 3-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 15, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5341-1108-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sleeping Bear Press

Review Posted Online: June 28, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2021

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THE STUFF OF STARS

Wow.

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  • Coretta Scott King Book Award Winner

The stories of the births of the universe, the planet Earth, and a human child are told in this picture book.

Bauer begins with cosmic nothing: “In the dark / in the deep, deep dark / a speck floated / invisible as thought / weighty as God.” Her powerful words build the story of the creation of the universe, presenting the science in poetic free verse. First, the narrative tells of the creation of stars by the Big Bang, then the explosions of some of those stars, from which dust becomes the matter that coalesces into planets, then the creation of life on Earth: a “lucky planet…neither too far / nor too near…its yellow star…the Sun.” Holmes’ digitally assembled hand-marbled paper-collage illustrations perfectly pair with the text—in fact the words and illustrations become an inseparable whole, as together they both delineate and suggest—the former telling the story and the latter, with their swirling colors suggestive of vast cosmos, contributing the atmosphere. It’s a stunning achievement to present to readers the factual events that created the birth of the universe, the planet Earth, and life on Earth with such an expressive, powerful creativity of words paired with illustrations so evocative of the awe and magic of the cosmos. But then the story goes one brilliant step further and gives the birth of a child the same beginning, the same sense of magic, the same miracle.

Wow. (Picture book. 3-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 4, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-7636-7883-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: July 15, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2018

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THE LODGE THAT BEAVER BUILT

A boon for beaver storytimes or young naturalists living near beaver streams.

Readers learn about a keystone species and the habitat they create.

In a “House That Jack Built” style (though minus the cumulative repetition), Sonenshine introduces children to beavers. Beginning with a beaver who’s just gnawed down a willow near their lodge, the author moves on to the dam that blocks the stream and protects their domed home and then to the yearlings that are working to repair it with sticks and mud. Muskrats and a musk turtle take advantage of the safety of the beavers’ lodge, while Coyote tries (and fails) to breach it. Then the book turns to other animals that enjoy the benefits of the pond the beavers have created: goose, ducklings, heron, moose. While the beavers aren’t in all these illustrations, evidence of them is. And then suddenly a flood takes out both the dam and the beavers’ lodge. So, the beavers move upstream to find a new spot to dam and build again, coming full circle back to the beginning of the book. Hunter’s ink-and–colored pencil illustrations have a scratchy style that is well suited to the beavers’ pelts, their watery surroundings, and the other animals that share their habitat. Careful observers will be well rewarded by the tiny details. Beavers are mostly nocturnal, which isn’t always faithfully depicted by Hunter. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A boon for beaver storytimes or young naturalists living near beaver streams. (beaver facts, glossary, further resources) (Informational picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 27, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-5362-1868-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: May 24, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2022

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