A palatable mix of education and entertainment for kids.

The Rootlets: Super Rootabilities

In this debut children’s book by a certified health coach, four young residents of an alien planet discover that they’re destined to develop nutrition-based superpowers.

In what’s clearly intended to be the first of a series of adventures, Marquez introduces young readers to a “small and enchanted” plant-based world and its inhabitants. The Rootlet kids—Brocc, Carrotina, Kaley, and Cornelius—were “just tiny little sprouts” on Planet Planted when they were plucked from the ground by wise Yammy Grammy and her eccentric friend Mr. Fungo Fungi, the owner of the popular Plantasyland amusement park. The adventuresome Rootlets and their dog, Basil, prepare to celebrate Earthrise, a “once-in-a-lifetime chance to see Planet Earth” through Brocc’s “Onion SkySearcher XT8 telescope.” Just before the big event, the Rootlets are surprised to learn that Earth’s appearance is the harbinger of their individual “super magical powers,” or “Rootabilities.” As the unsubtle (but not preachy) tale unfolds, the Rootlets try to imagine what powers they might have (“They started by reading up on all sorts of powers….But the spells wouldn’t cast, the broomsticks wouldn’t fly”). Carrotina is the first to discover hers: keen eyesight. Soon the other Rootlets learn what they can do: Kaley’s skin glows, Cornelius’ muscles are strong, and Brocc’s brain is powerful. Yammy cautions that their Rootabilities are just “newly sprouting” and that it will take time to learn how to use them—but they should always use them for good. Here, the author lightly models such concepts as friendship and teamwork. Overall, Marquez’s intent is obvious: to encourage kids to view healthy eating in a positive light. The book’s target audience will key into its health-conscious tone, and readers should find it easy to relate to the veggie-centric framework. Along the way, Russnak’s colorful, animation-style illustrations entertainingly realize the alien world. The ending promises further adventures to come.

A palatable mix of education and entertainment for kids.

Pub Date: Oct. 28, 2014

ISBN: 978-0990721604

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Rootlets

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2015

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A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift.

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BECAUSE I HAD A TEACHER

A paean to teachers and their surrogates everywhere.

This gentle ode to a teacher’s skill at inspiring, encouraging, and being a role model is spoken, presumably, from a child’s viewpoint. However, the voice could equally be that of an adult, because who can’t look back upon teachers or other early mentors who gave of themselves and offered their pupils so much? Indeed, some of the self-aware, self-assured expressions herein seem perhaps more realistic as uttered from one who’s already grown. Alternatively, readers won’t fail to note that this small book, illustrated with gentle soy-ink drawings and featuring an adult-child bear duo engaged in various sedentary and lively pursuits, could just as easily be about human parent- (or grandparent-) child pairs: some of the softly colored illustrations depict scenarios that are more likely to occur within a home and/or other family-oriented setting. Makes sense: aren’t parents and other close family members children’s first teachers? This duality suggests that the book might be best shared one-on-one between a nostalgic adult and a child who’s developed some self-confidence, having learned a thing or two from a parent, grandparent, older relative, or classroom instructor.

A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-943200-08-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Compendium

Review Posted Online: Dec. 14, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

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ABIYOYO RETURNS

The seemingly ageless Seeger brings back his renowned giant for another go in a tuneful tale that, like the art, is a bit sketchy, but chockful of worthy messages. Faced with yearly floods and droughts since they’ve cut down all their trees, the townsfolk decide to build a dam—but the project is stymied by a boulder that is too huge to move. Call on Abiyoyo, suggests the granddaughter of the man with the magic wand, then just “Zoop Zoop” him away again. But the rock that Abiyoyo obligingly flings aside smashes the wand. How to avoid Abiyoyo’s destruction now? Sing the monster to sleep, then make it a peaceful, tree-planting member of the community, of course. Seeger sums it up in a postscript: “every community must learn to manage its giants.” Hays, who illustrated the original (1986), creates colorful, if unfinished-looking, scenes featuring a notably multicultural human cast and a towering Cubist fantasy of a giant. The song, based on a Xhosa lullaby, still has that hard-to-resist sing-along potential, and the themes of waging peace, collective action, and the benefits of sound ecological practices are presented in ways that children will both appreciate and enjoy. (Picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-689-83271-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2001

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