This is a book without conflict, and that’s the last thing a child needs.

SAMMY SPIDER'S NEW FRIEND

From the Sammy Spider series

Sammy Spider is perfectly safe.

Maybe you’re a parent. Your child is asleep in the next room, and you’re watching the news. War has broken out in the Middle East. Senators are screaming about the budget. There’s a pile of picture books nearby. You want to give your child a story with no conflict at all. You open up this latest in the Sammy Spider series. A boy is crying. He has no friends at his new house. But two pages later, the boy next door brings him cake. They play baseball. They take turns on the swing. Sammy spins a web to keep them entertained. You think: No one could object to this book. It even teaches vocabulary, like the Hebrew word akavish, which means spider, and the English word “hospitality.” And you think: Did I really make friends that quickly when I was a child? Maybe you did. But you start thinking about the books you loved back then. Max had to tame monsters. The Cat in the Hat nearly destroyed a house. And suddenly, the boys on their swing seem a little dull. You look for a book about pirates, in case your child wakes up in the middle of the night.

This is a book without conflict, and that’s the last thing a child needs. (Picture book. 2-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-7613-6663-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Kar-Ben

Review Posted Online: July 22, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2012

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Renata’s wren encounter proves magical, one most children could only wish to experience outside of this lovely story.

CARPENTER'S HELPER

A home-renovation project is interrupted by a family of wrens, allowing a young girl an up-close glimpse of nature.

Renata and her father enjoy working on upgrading their bathroom, installing a clawfoot bathtub, and cutting a space for a new window. One warm night, after Papi leaves the window space open, two wrens begin making a nest in the bathroom. Rather than seeing it as an unfortunate delay of their project, Renata and Papi decide to let the avian carpenters continue their work. Renata witnesses the birth of four chicks as their rosy eggs split open “like coats that are suddenly too small.” Renata finds at a crucial moment that she can help the chicks learn to fly, even with the bittersweet knowledge that it will only hasten their exits from her life. Rosen uses lively language and well-chosen details to move the story of the baby birds forward. The text suggests the strong bond built by this Afro-Latinx father and daughter with their ongoing project without needing to point it out explicitly, a light touch in a picture book full of delicate, well-drawn moments and precise wording. Garoche’s drawings are impressively detailed, from the nest’s many small bits to the developing first feathers on the chicks and the wall smudges and exposed wiring of the renovation. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10-by-20-inch double-page spreads viewed at actual size.)

Renata’s wren encounter proves magical, one most children could only wish to experience outside of this lovely story. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: March 16, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-12320-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Schwartz & Wade/Random

Review Posted Online: Jan. 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2021

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Safe to creep on by.

LOVE FROM THE VERY HUNGRY CATERPILLAR

Carle’s famous caterpillar expresses its love.

In three sentences that stretch out over most of the book’s 32 pages, the (here, at least) not-so-ravenous larva first describes the object of its love, then describes how that loved one makes it feel before concluding, “That’s why… / I[heart]U.” There is little original in either visual or textual content, much of it mined from The Very Hungry Caterpillar. “You are… / …so sweet,” proclaims the caterpillar as it crawls through the hole it’s munched in a strawberry; “…the cherry on my cake,” it says as it perches on the familiar square of chocolate cake; “…the apple of my eye,” it announces as it emerges from an apple. Images familiar from other works join the smiling sun that shone down on the caterpillar as it delivers assurances that “you make… / …the sun shine brighter / …the stars sparkle,” and so on. The book is small, only 7 inches high and 5 ¾ inches across when closed—probably not coincidentally about the size of a greeting card. While generations of children have grown up with the ravenous caterpillar, this collection of Carle imagery and platitudinous sentiment has little of his classic’s charm. The melding of Carle’s caterpillar with Robert Indiana’s iconic LOVE on the book’s cover, alas, draws further attention to its derivative nature.

Safe to creep on by. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Dec. 15, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-448-48932-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: Feb. 2, 2021

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more