WHO IS IN THE GARDEN?

Rosenberry's three recent books (Vera Runs Away, 2000, etc.) about an irrepressible little girl named Vera have an undeniable charm with a unique main character, believable illustrations, and strong plot lines. Unfortunately, Vera isn't present in this latest offering, replaced by a nameless little boy who lacks Vera's spunk, and in fact, lacks much personality at all. The boy tours his backyard garden, observing and describing ordinary animals and insects camouflaged in their own particular environments. On the last double-page spread (and on the cover), the boy himself is camouflaged in a pole tent of green bean vines, providing a mildly surprising answer to the question posed in the title. The uninspired text plods through the garden on flat feet, alternating between straightforward descriptions of the garden inhabitants and rather confusing second-person commands to continue exploring in different ways. Rosenberry plays with unusual perspectives in her illustrations, which result in the boy sometimes looking two feet tall and two years old. Her watercolors of flora and fauna are pretty, but the little boy's age, facial features, and hair are not uniform throughout the book. The boy also looks rather bored, an effect that is likely to be shared by children listening to this story. Wait for Vera's next adventure. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: March 15, 2001

ISBN: 0-8234-1529-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2001

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A quiet, warm look at the bond between grandfather and grandson.

MAX AND THE TAG-ALONG MOON

After a visit, an African-American grandfather and grandson say farewell under a big yellow moon. Granpa tells Max it is the same moon he will see when he gets home.

This gently told story uses Max’s fascination with the moon’s ability to “tag along” where his family’s car goes as a metaphor for his grandfather’s constant love. Separating the two relatives is “a swervy-curvy road” that travels up and down hills, over a bridge, “past a field of sleeping cows,” around a small town and through a tunnel. No matter where Max travels, the moon is always there, waiting around a curve or peeking through the trees. But then “[d]ark clouds tumbled across the night sky.” No stars, no nightingales and no moon are to be found. Max frets: “Granpa said it would always shine for me.” Disappointed, Max climbs into bed, missing both the moon and his granpa. In a dramatic double-page spread, readers see Max’s excitement as “[s]lowly, very slowly, Max’s bedroom began to fill with a soft yellow glow.” Cooper uses his signature style to illustrate both the landscape—sometimes viewed from the car windows or reflected in the vehicle’s mirror—and the expressive faces of his characters. Coupled with the story’s lyrical text, this is a lovely mood piece.

A quiet, warm look at the bond between grandfather and grandson. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: June 13, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-399-23342-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: March 13, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2013

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Share this feel-good title with those who love art and those who can appreciate the confidence-building triumph of solving a...

SKY COLOR

Reynolds returns to a favorite topic—creative self-expression—with characteristic skill in a companion title to The Dot (2003) and Ish (2004).

Marisol is “an artist through and through. So when her teacher told her class they were going to paint a mural…, Marisol couldn’t wait to begin.” As each classmate claims a part of the picture to paint, Marisol declares she will “paint the sky.” But she soon discovers there is no blue paint and wonders what she will do without the vital color. Up to this point, the author uses color sparingly—to accent a poster or painting of Marisol’s or to highlight the paint jars on a desk. During her bus ride home, Marisol wonders what to do and stares out the window. The next spread reveals a vibrant departure from the gray tones of the previous pages. Reds, oranges, lemon yellows and golds streak across the sunset sky. Marisol notices the sky continuing to change in a rainbow of colors…except blue. After awakening from a colorful dream to a gray rainy day, Marisol smiles. With a fervent mixing of paints, she creates a beautiful swirling sky that she describes as “sky color.” Fans of Reynolds will enjoy the succinct language enhanced by illustrations in pen, ink, watercolor, gouache and tea.

Share this feel-good title with those who love art and those who can appreciate the confidence-building triumph of solving a problem on one’s own—creatively. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Aug. 28, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-7636-2345-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: June 20, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2012

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