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Poignant and lovely.

Poet Kooser explores the tension between the human predilection for taming nature and the triumph of the wild.

A solitary house, its lawn bordered by thick woods, shelters a father, boy and girl. The children play in the woods while their father meticulously mows, plucking tree seedlings at every appearance. The children grow up and leave, and dad, yard work too much for him, follows. Unsold and unwanted, the house leaks and sags. Kooser describes the transformation: “Some of the seeds had sprouted along the foundation, where water ran off the roof… and these little trees were soon saplings, pressed against the side of the house.” Paradoxically, the rotting house, nails rusting and boards pulling away, is kept intact by the maturing trees. Kooser, his language plain yet rich, marvels quietly: "[A]s they grew bigger and stronger, they held it / together as if it was a bird’s nest in the fingers of their branches.” Klassen’s stylized pictures, in a muted palette of umber, brick red and green-gray, capture the isolation of both house and father. The lawn, that point of pride, isn’t lushly depicted. Rather, it’s a collection of fitful, pale strokes, suspended below a swirl of winged seeds. Double-page spreads show the shift from foundational support to that of the tight phalanx of trees. In the final spread, the house is seen from below, high in the trees’ sure embrace.

Poignant and lovely. (Picture book. 4-9)

Pub Date: March 27, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-7636-510-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Jan. 17, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2012

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From the Questioneers series , Vol. 2

Adventure, humor, and smart, likable characters make for a winning chapter book.

Ada Twist’s incessant stream of questions leads to answers that help solve a neighborhood crisis.

Ada conducts experiments at home to answer questions such as, why does Mom’s coffee smell stronger than Dad’s coffee? Each answer leads to another question, another hypothesis, and another experiment, which is how she goes from collecting data on backyard birds for a citizen-science project to helping Rosie Revere figure out how to get her uncle Ned down from the sky, where his helium-filled “perilous pants” are keeping him afloat. The Questioneers—Rosie the engineer, Iggy Peck the architect, and Ada the scientist—work together, asking questions like scientists. Armed with knowledge (of molecules and air pressure, force and temperature) but more importantly, with curiosity, Ada works out a solution. Ada is a recognizable, three-dimensional girl in this delightfully silly chapter book: tirelessly curious and determined yet easily excited and still learning to express herself. If science concepts aren’t completely clear in this romp, relationships and emotions certainly are. In playful full- and half-page illustrations that break up the text, Ada is black with Afro-textured hair; Rosie and Iggy are white. A closing section on citizen science may inspire readers to get involved in science too; on the other hand, the “Ode to a Gas!” may just puzzle them. Other backmatter topics include the importance of bird study and the threat palm-oil use poses to rainforests.

Adventure, humor, and smart, likable characters make for a winning chapter book. (Fiction. 6-9)

Pub Date: April 16, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4197-3422-9

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Amulet/Abrams

Review Posted Online: Jan. 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2019

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A good bet for the youngest bird-watchers.

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. 3, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2014

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