THE SURPRISE GARDEN

As a calendar of plant growth, this book is great. Accurate drawings created from cut-paper collages show each step along the way, from seed to seedling, plant, and fruition. A particular charming chart at the end of the book links seeds to the plants they produce, recognizing that seed identification is as important as plant or vegetable recognition. Children who plant the mysterious seeds carefully track their growth, and then eat a meal of the garden's precious gifts. The surprise may not astonish readers—that seeds grow into plants—but that quibble doesn't detract from the green zing of spring across every page, and a garden population that includes ladybugs, rabbits, spiders, and ants. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-590-10075-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Blue Sky/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 1997

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FLETCHER AND THE FALLING LEAVES

Fletcher is a young fox concerned about his favorite tree. “I think my tree is sick,” he tells his mother, in reference to its brown leaves. His mother tells him not worry, that it’s only autumn. Comforted, Fletcher pats his tree and reassures it. But as leaves begin to fall, Fletcher’s worry increases, and he vows to collect all of the leaves and reaffix them. Despite his best efforts—he even tries to keep other animals from removing the leaves—Fletcher awakes one morning to find that the tree is bare, save one leaf that he brings home for safekeeping. When Fletcher next returns to visit the tree, he is met with a glorious sight: Glittering icicles adorn it. Awed, Fletcher asks if the tree is all right, and a breeze softly shakes its branches, causing them to nod and emit soft laughter. Softly glowing illustrations, evocative and full of depth, are perfectly matched with the warm and lyrical text. A poetic tribute to winter and fall, Fletcher’s story is sure to resonate with young readers. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-06-113401-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2006

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Earnest and silly by turns, it doesn’t quite capture the attention or the imagination, although surely its heart is in the...

ROSIE REVERE, ENGINEER

Rhymed couplets convey the story of a girl who likes to build things but is shy about it. Neither the poetry nor Rosie’s projects always work well.

Rosie picks up trash and oddments where she finds them, stashing them in her attic room to work on at night. Once, she made a hat for her favorite zookeeper uncle to keep pythons away, and he laughed so hard that she never made anything publicly again. But when her great-great-aunt Rose comes to visit and reminds Rosie of her own past building airplanes, she expresses her regret that she still has not had the chance to fly. Great-great-aunt Rose is visibly modeled on Rosie the Riveter, the iconic, red-bandanna–wearing poster woman from World War II. Rosie decides to build a flying machine and does so (it’s a heli-o-cheese-copter), but it fails. She’s just about to swear off making stuff forever when Aunt Rose congratulates her on her failure; now she can go on to try again. Rosie wears her hair swooped over one eye (just like great-great-aunt Rose), and other figures have exaggerated hairdos, tiny feet and elongated or greatly rounded bodies. The detritus of Rosie’s collections is fascinating, from broken dolls and stuffed animals to nails, tools, pencils, old lamps and possibly an erector set. And cheddar-cheese spray.

Earnest and silly by turns, it doesn’t quite capture the attention or the imagination, although surely its heart is in the right place. (historical note) (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-4197-0845-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2013

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