Hendrix’s richly detailed, brightly colored spreads make the book visually engaging, but on the whole it feels out of sync...

MCTOAD MOWS TINY ISLAND

McToad likes Thursdays, the day he mows Tiny Island.

Every Thursday, he rides the mower out of the shed onto his big truck and puts the mower onto a train with a forklift. The train takes the mower to the airport, where it is carried by conveyor belt to an airplane. The mower is flown to the other side of the island, where a baggage buggy takes it to a helicopter that transports it to a dock. There, it is lowered by crane onto a boat, then sailed to the island. The island is truly tiny; in fact the mower takes up most of the small lawn that sits atop the island. The task at hand is swiftly completed (after a sip of lemonade for McToad and an oil refill for the tractor), and an arrowed diagram shows the mower returning home by the same route in reverse. The book jacket proclaims this “a transportation tale,” and it certainly covers a dizzying array of modes, but at a time when the scientific community—and even the pope—is issuing ever sterner warnings about climate change, it’s hard not to see McToad’s weekly odyssey as anything but an unnecessary journey and a profligate consumption of resources. The black smoke issuing from McToad’s tractor chimney throughout as well as the patent ludicrousness of the entire endeavor only serves to emphasize this.

Hendrix’s richly detailed, brightly colored spreads make the book visually engaging, but on the whole it feels out of sync with evolving sensibilities and awareness. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4197-1650-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: June 23, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2015

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Instills a sense of well-being in youngsters while encouraging them to explore the natural world.

YOU ARE HOME WITH ME

This reassuring picture book exemplifies how parents throughout the animal kingdom make homes for their offspring.

The narrative is written from the point of view of a parent talking to their child: “If you were a beaver, I would gnaw on trees with my teeth to build a cozy lodge for us to sleep in during the day.” Text appears in big, easy-to-read type, with the name of the creature in boldface. Additional facts about the animal appear in a smaller font, such as: “Beavers have transparent eyelids to help them see under water.” The gathering of land, air, and water animals includes a raven, a flying squirrel, and a sea lion. “Home” might be a nest, a den, or a burrow. One example, of a blue whale who has homes in the north and south (ocean is implied), will help children stretch the concept into feeling at home in the larger world. Illustrations of the habitats have an inviting luminosity. Mature and baby animals are realistically depicted, although facial features appear to have been somewhat softened, perhaps to appeal to young readers. The book ends with the comforting scene of a human parent and child silhouetted in the welcoming lights of the house they approach: “Wherever you may be, you will always have a home with me.”

Instills a sense of well-being in youngsters while encouraging them to explore the natural world. (Informational picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Nov. 12, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-63217-224-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Little Bigfoot/Sasquatch

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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Though Penguin doesn’t discover any of his own true talents, young listeners will probably empathize with wanting something...

FLIGHT SCHOOL

From the Flight School series

A small round penguin with lofty aspirations finds success of a sort in a sweet, if slight, appreciation of the resourcefulness of teachers.

The sign near a cluster of wooden pilings in the middle of the water reads “FLIGHT SCHOOL / WE TEACH BIRDS TO FLY.” “I was hatched to fly,” announces Penguin upon his arrival from the South Pole. “I have the soul of an eagle,” he assures the gently dubious Teacher. “Penguin and the other birdies practiced for weeks,” but he succeeds only in plunging into the ocean—not terribly gracefully. He is ready to give up when a solution devised by Teacher and Flamingo has Penguin flying, if only for a few moments, and his happiness at this one-time achievement is lasting. Judge’s edge-to-edge watercolor-and-pencil art is lively and amusing. Her various sea and shore birds—gulls, a pelican, a heron and a small owl among them—and their fledglings are just a little scruffy, and they are exaggeratedly, expressively funny in their anthropomorphic roles as teachers and students. Background shades of warm yellow, sea blue and green, and brown sand let the friendly, silly faces and bodies of the birds take center stage.

Though Penguin doesn’t discover any of his own true talents, young listeners will probably empathize with wanting something so far out of reach. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: April 15, 2014

ISBN: 978-14424-8177-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: Feb. 5, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2014

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