A VERY CURIOUS BEAR

Parents not eager to answer incessant “why” questions from their toddlers may wish to stay away from this existential tale about curiosity. A young bear wants to know, “Why do the daisies squeeze up from the grass?” Parent bear replies, “To drink in the light as the dreamy days pass.” “ ‘Why does the sky go all rumbly with thunder?’ / ‘To give us a shiver and fill us with wonder.’ ” The big bear has an endless supply of patience and is quite a poet to boot, ably answering the young one’s many questions. Howard’s illustrations are soft and consciously cute, gradually including a number of different animals as the bears make their progress. Although both bears remain genderless in the text, and the big bear sports no distinguishing characteristics beyond a benign smile, the small bear wears a red cape and brandishes a sword—an unfortunate if unstated association of masculinity with curiosity. The rhymes are effective and children certainly do ask “why”—it’s up to their parents how creative they might be in their own answers. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: April 28, 2009

ISBN: 978-0-375-85083-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2009

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Captivating—and not a bit terrifying.

SHARKBLOCK

From the Block Books series

Catering to young scientists, naturalists, and Shark Week fans–to-be, this visually arresting volume presents a good deal of information in easily digested bites.

Like others in the Block Books series, this book feels both compact and massive. When closed, it is 5.5 inches across, 6.5 inches tall, and nearly 2 inches thick, weighty and solid, with stiff cardboard pages that boast creative die cuts and numerous fold-out three- and four-panel tableaux. While it’s possible it’s not the only book with a dorsal fin, it certainly must be among the best. The multiracial cast of aquarium visitors includes a Sikh man with his kids and a man of color who uses a wheelchair; there they discover the dramatic degree of variations among sharks. The book begins with a trip to a shark exhibit, complete with a megalodon jaw. The text points out that there are over 400 known types of sharks alive today, then introduces 18 examples, including huge whale sharks, tiny pocket sharks, and stealthy, well-camouflaged wobbegongs. Reef sharks prowl the warm waters of the surface, while sand tiger sharks explore shipwrecks on the ocean floor. Bioluminescent catsharks reside at the bottom of an inky black flap that folds down, signifying the deepest ocean depths, where no sunlight penetrates. Great whites get star treatment with four consecutive two-page spreads; their teeth and appetite impress but don’t horrify. The book does a wonderful job of highlighting the interconnectedness of species and the importance of environmental stewardship.

Captivating—and not a bit terrifying. (Board book. 3-5)

Pub Date: May 4, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-4197-4119-7

Page Count: 84

Publisher: abramsappleseed

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2021

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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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