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A sweetly told tale but ultimately a toothless one.

Hope for the future flows through this environmentalist story.

In the beginning there was “the Wild,” and it was good. Pictured here as a large, anthropomorphized, dragonlike creature upon which all the land-based world resides, the Wild welcomes all living things, “from the shallow shore to the deep ocean.” It gives all beings what they need, even the humans who eventually appear. Unfortunately, in time the humans take more than they need, justifying their greed by saying, “The Wild is so huge and giving that there will always be enough for us.” As people plow and mine, burn and dump, smoke fills the air, garbage litters the ground, and the Wild looks stunned and weakened. Still, one light-skinned boy notices the Wild’s suffering and speaks out, warning that they are hurting it. He’s joined by other, racially diverse people, and in time the Wild recovers. This time, however, “nobody took without giving something back.” Out of seeming necessity, the story simplifies situations down to their most essential parts, leaving little room for nuance. Languid and lovely art is filled with tiny natural details. Meanwhile, an understated text in which no one seriously objects to the fight for the environment makes this a rather low-key call to action.

A sweetly told tale but ultimately a toothless one. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Feb. 27, 2024

ISBN: 9780593708989

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Nov. 4, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2023

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From the Izzy Gizmo series

A disappointing follow-up.

Inventor Izzy Gizmo is back in this sequel to her eponymous debut (2017).

While busily inventing one day, Izzy receives an invitation from the Genius Guild to their annual convention. Though Izzy’s “inventions…don’t always work,” Grandpa (apparently her sole caregiver) encourages her to go. The next day they undertake a long journey “over fields, hills, and waves” and “mile after mile” to isolated Technoff Isle. There, Izzy finds she must compete against four other kids to create the most impressive machine. The colorful, detail-rich illustrations chronicle how poor Izzy is thwarted at every turn by Abi von Lavish, a Veruca Salt–esque character who takes all the supplies for herself. But when Abi abandons her project, Izzy salvages the pieces and decides to take Grandpa’s advice to create a machine that “can really be put to good use.” A frustrated Izzy’s impatience with a friend almost foils her chance at the prize, but all’s well that ends well. There’s much to like: Brown-skinned inventor girl Izzy is an appealing character, it’s great to see a nurturing brown-skinned male caregiver, the idea of an “Invention Convention” is fun, and a sustainable-energy invention is laudable. However, these elements don’t make up for rhymes that often feel forced and a lackluster story.

A disappointing follow-up. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: March 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-68263-164-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Peachtree

Review Posted Online: Jan. 11, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

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Parent-child love and affection, appealingly presented, with the added attraction of the seasonal content and lack of gender...

A polar-bear parent speaks poetically of love for a child.

A genderless adult and cub travel through the landscapes of an arctic year. Each of the softly rendered double-page paintings has a very different feel and color palette as the pair go through the seasons, walking through wintry ice and snow and green summer meadows, cavorting in the blue ocean, watching whales, and playing beside musk oxen. The rhymes of the four-line stanzas are not forced, as is the case too often in picture books of this type: “When cold, winter winds / blow the leaves far and wide, / You’ll cross the great icebergs / with me by your side.” On a dark, snowy night, the loving parent says: “But for now, cuddle close / while the stars softly shine. // I’ll always be yours, / and you’ll always be mine.” As the last illustration shows the pair curled up for sleep, young listeners will be lulled to sweet dreams by the calm tenor of the pictures and the words. While far from original, this timeless theme is always in demand, and the combination of delightful illustrations and poetry that scans well make this a good choice for early-childhood classrooms, public libraries, and one-on-one home read-alouds.

Parent-child love and affection, appealingly presented, with the added attraction of the seasonal content and lack of gender restrictions. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-68010-070-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Tiger Tales

Review Posted Online: July 1, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2017

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