A gentle lesson, deftly told.



Little Grace is full of gratitude for the meal she’s about to eat.

“Thanks to the rain, the soil and the sunshine,” says Mama, it’s dinnertime. Grace sits down to eat, promptly thanking the kangaroos. When Mama asks why, Grace explains that the kangaroos didn’t eat the carrots. She goes on to thank Leo, who enabled her to pick the lemons that she squeezes onto her fish, as well as the alpaca that provided the wool that Auntie Amber used to knit a scarf for Uncle Fred so he wouldn’t freeze when he went fishing. More thanks go to the road workers who fixed the path along the creek, which allowed Mama to get to Suki’s vegetable stand and buy the corn and kale that they were eating. Mama has a “thank you” too, for the flower tree where they met their friend Trish, who gave them the jar of relish that they are eating right now. Finally, Grace thanks Mama, and Mama thanks her back…for saying thanks. Balla’s tale has a giddy flow that should appeal especially to the very young. Her illustrations have an appropriate childlike quality, as if drawn by Grace herself (with Mama’s help). Grace has light-brown skin and puffy black hair, and her Australian country neighborhood is a diverse one.

A gentle lesson, deftly told. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: June 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-61067-644-1

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Kane Miller

Review Posted Online: April 17, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2017

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Pair this with Leo Timmers’ Who Is Driving? (2007) for twice the guessing fun.


From the Clothesline Clues series

Heling and Hembrook’s clever conceit challenges children to analyze a small town’s clotheslines to guess the job each of their owners does. 

Close-up on the clothesline: “Uniform and cap, / an invite for you. / Big bag of letters. / What job does she do?” A turn of the page reveals a macro view of the home, van and the woman doing her job, “She is a mail carrier.” Indeed, she can be spotted throughout the book delivering invitations to all the rest of the characters, who gather at the end for a “Launch Party.” The verses’ rhymes are spot-on, though the rhythm falters a couple of times. The authors nicely mix up the gender stereotypes often associated with several of these occupations, making the carpenter, firefighter and astronaut women. But while Davies keeps uniforms and props pretty neutral (he even avoids U.S. mail symbols), he keeps to the stereotypes that allow young readers to easily identify occupations—the farmer chews on a stalk of wheat; the beret-wearing artist sports a curly mustache. A subdued palette and plain white backgrounds keep kids’ focus on the clothing clues. Still, there are plenty of details to absorb—the cat with arched back that anticipates a spray of water, the firefighter who “lights” the rocket.

Pair this with Leo Timmers’ Who Is Driving? (2007) for twice the guessing fun. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: July 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-58089-251-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Charlesbridge

Review Posted Online: May 16, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2012

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The action of this rhymed and humorous tale centers upon a mouse who "took a stroll/through the deep dark wood./A fox saw the mouse/and the mouse looked good." The mouse escapes being eaten by telling the fox that he is on his way to meet his friend the gruffalo (a monster of his imagination), whose favorite food is roasted fox. The fox beats a hasty retreat. Similar escapes are in store for an owl and a snake; both hightail it when they learn the particulars: tusks, claws, terrible jaws, eyes orange, tongue black, purple prickles on its back. When the gruffalo suddenly materializes out of the mouse's head and into the forest, the mouse has to think quick, declaring himself inedible as the "scariest creature in the deep dark wood," and inviting the gruffalo to follow him to witness the effect he has on the other creatures. When the gruffalo hears that the mouse's favorite food is gruffalo crumble, he runs away. It's a fairly innocuous tale, with twists that aren't sharp enough and treachery that has no punch. Scheffler's funny scenes prevent the suspense from culminating; all his creatures, predator and prey, are downright lovable. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: June 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-8037-2386-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 1999

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