Fun; kids should lap this up fur storytime.

CAT PROBLEMS

From the Animal Problems series

Life as a cat can give one paws.

The angst-y feline narrator has quite a tale to tell, grumbling sardonically about how impurr-fect life is as an indoor-only cat; screeching about various daily woes, like “only” getting “nineteen hours of sleep” and why another cat’s sitting where it wants to; and making constant demands (“What does it take to get a little bowl service around here?”) All in all, this furry complainer seems to have a lot to yammer about. “Things would be different if I knew how to open a door,” it grumps. The cat’s whiny, self-centered personality is wittily conveyed, but its wry monologue also elicits sympathy; cat guardians might not consider how frustrating it might be for a pet to be permanently housebound. When the cat bemoans its fate to a squirrel through the window screen, the street-smart rodent offers perspective. Readers who’ve been owned by kitties will laugh knowingly at the protagonist’s shifty mental processes and comical shenanigans. The frenetic illustrations, with a limited palette of mostly browns, tans, and grays, gibe well with the humorous text. Innovative book design enhances the visual appeal, with text placement and white space focusing attention. Numerous spreads are set in panels for quick pacing; many words/phrases are set in various fonts for dramatic effect. Note the frayed ends on some letters in the title on the dust jacket. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Fun; kids should lap this up fur storytime. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 3, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-30213-2

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Random House Studio

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2021

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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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This simple and sincere tale of working up courage to face fears makes quite a splash.

JABARI JUMPS

Young Jabari decides today is the day he is going to jump from the diving board, even though it’s a little high and a little scary.

Jabari’s father and baby sister accompany him to the swimming pool in the city, where Jabari has already made up his mind about today’s goal: jumping off the diving board. “I’m a great jumper,” he says, “so I’m not scared at all.” But that’s not entirely true. Readers see Jabari play the waiting game as the other children (a diverse bunch) make their ways past him in line. Once Jabari finally begins to climb up, he slyly remembers that he forgot to “stretch.” The stalling techniques don’t faze his dad, who sees an opportunity for a life lesson. “It’s okay to feel a little scared,” offers his dad at the side of the pool. With renewed will, Jabari returns to the towering diving board, ready to embrace the feat. In her debut, Cornwall places her loving black family at the center, coloring the swimming pool and park beyond in minty hues and adding whimsy with digitally collaged newspaper for skyscrapers. A bird’s-eye view of Jabari’s toes clinging to the edge of the diving board as he looks way, way down at the blue pool below puts readers in his head and in the action.

This simple and sincere tale of working up courage to face fears makes quite a splash. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: May 9, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-7636-7838-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: March 6, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2017

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