If nothing else, the book will make kids eager to practice whistling.

MAMA SEETON'S WHISTLE

Lauren Bacall’s quote about whistling is classic, but when it comes to puckering, no one tops Mama Seeton.

Mama’s whistle to her family is heard throughout the neighborhood, letting her troops know it’s time to come home for dinner and chocolate cake, even as they grow older and roam farther afield. At last, all grown, they leave and settle in far-flung places; frequent letters don’t fend off Mama’s loneliness. When Papa Seeton suggests she put her lips together and blow for old times’ sake, she thinks he’s daft but does so anyway; of course, no one arrives—at first. Miraculously, the marvelous sound travels around the world and summons every Seeton scion home. In time, the Seeton children summon their own offspring with a clarion whistle that brings the new generation running. This is a sweet but odd tale, and readers may have to suspend quite a bit of disbelief to buy into the premise. The audience is unclear; frequent references to time passing and an aging parent’s wistfulness over her empty nest may be more resonant for adults than children. The ink-and-watercolor illustrations are charmingly cozy and retro; they easily evoke both a happy, close-knit family and the passage of time with carefully chosen details. In a nice nod to currency, she presents biracial grandkids.

If nothing else, the book will make kids eager to practice whistling. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: April 14, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-316-12217-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Jan. 20, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2015

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A good bet for the youngest bird-watchers.

MAMA BUILT A LITTLE NEST

Echoing the meter of “Mary Had a Little Lamb,” Ward uses catchy original rhymes to describe the variety of nests birds create.

Each sweet stanza is complemented by a factual, engaging description of the nesting habits of each bird. Some of the notes are intriguing, such as the fact that the hummingbird uses flexible spider web to construct its cup-shaped nest so the nest will stretch as the chicks grow. An especially endearing nesting behavior is that of the emperor penguin, who, with unbelievable patience, incubates the egg between his tummy and his feet for up to 60 days. The author clearly feels a mission to impart her extensive knowledge of birds and bird behavior to the very young, and she’s found an appealing and attractive way to accomplish this. The simple rhymes on the left page of each spread, written from the young bird’s perspective, will appeal to younger children, and the notes on the right-hand page of each spread provide more complex factual information that will help parents answer further questions and satisfy the curiosity of older children. Jenkins’ accomplished collage illustrations of common bird species—woodpecker, hummingbird, cowbird, emperor penguin, eagle, owl, wren—as well as exotics, such as flamingoes and hornbills, are characteristically naturalistic and accurate in detail.

A good bet for the youngest bird-watchers.   (author’s note, further resources) (Informational picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 18, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4424-2116-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Beach Lane/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Jan. 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2014

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A cozy story that will transport readers to faraway places.

A GIFT FOR NANA

All gifts are perfect when they come from the heart.

Rabbit goes on a “journey through a green and grand forest” in order to get a gift for his nana even though it is “not even a major hare holiday.” He travels very far in search of the perfect gift and encounters many new friends whom he asks for help. Each of them proffers Rabbit something they can easily make or acquire: The moon offers a “crescent smile,” a whale proposes a glass of water, and so on. Ultimately, Rabbit finds the perfect gift for Nana all on his own, and his nana absolutely adores it. Although the story is a bit predictable, it is amusing—readers will laugh at the anthropomorphic volcano’s explosion and Rabbit’s exhaustion from his journey, among other chucklesome scenes. Smith’s gesso, oil, and cold wax illustrations are exquisite and almost ethereal. The friendly, many-eyed creature referred to as a “stickler” is at once haunting and intriguing. The moon is Tim Burton–esque and seems to glow and pop off the page. Pleased with his choice of gift, Rabbit has the moon’s smile on his face. The predominance of full-bleed double-page spreads accentuates Rabbit’s long quest. The different font sizes, styles, and colors will aid emerging readers with diction when reading aloud but might prove difficult for those with dyslexia. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A cozy story that will transport readers to faraway places. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: April 12, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-43033-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Random House Studio

Review Posted Online: Jan. 25, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2022

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