RICK THE ROCK OF ROOM 214

A rock wants to rock his world.

Rick, a specimen residing on the Nature Finds shelf in Classroom 214, dreams of life outdoors after hearing the teacher describe the power and importance of rocks in nature. The acorn, the moss, and the bark who sit on the shelf with Rick try to convince him simply to stay with them, but Rick is bored with his sedentary existence; he wants adventures! Cleverly figuring out how to escape life as a mere shelf sitter, Rick finds himself outdoors among others of his kind but soon learns their lot isn’t so hot (though their existence was the result of very hot circumstances—exploding out of volcanos)—nor is it exciting or dangerous. In fact, it’s dull and lonely. Luckily for Rick, a student rescues him, returning him to his shelf and grateful pals. Rick has a rock-solid epiphany: Life in Room 214 is more rewarding than he’d realized. This sweet, gentle tale reinforces for children the reassuring idea that it’s OK to try new things and explore new paths, but it’s equally OK, not to mention comforting and important, to return to familiar territory. The charming digital illustrations, many set in panels, are delightfully expressive and deeply appealing; young readers will appreciate the costumes worn by the inhabitants of the Nature Finds shelf, presumably concocted by the students, who are racially diverse. One child wears a hijab. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

This story rocks. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 30, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-5344-9464-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 11, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2022

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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 solid, small step for diversifying STEM stories.

ASTRONAUT ANNIE

What does Annie want to be?

As career day approaches, Annie wants to keep her job choice secret until her family sees her presentation at school. Readers will figure it out, however, through the title and clues Tadgell incorporates into the illustrations. Family members make guesses about her ambitions that are tied to their own passions, although her brother watches as she completes her costume in a bedroom with a Mae Jemison poster, starry décor, and a telescope. There’s a celebratory mood at the culminating presentation, where Annie says she wants to “soar high through the air” like her basketball-playing mother, “explore faraway places” like her hiker dad, and “be brave and bold” like her baker grandmother (this feels forced, but oven mitts are part of her astronaut costume) so “the whole world will hear my exciting stories” like her reporter grandfather. Annie jumps off a chair to “BLAST OFF” in a small illustration superimposed on a larger picture depicting her floating in space with a reddish ground below. It’s unclear if Annie imagines this scene or if it’s her future-self exploring Mars, but either scenario fits the aspirational story. Backmatter provides further reading suggestions and information about the moon and four women astronauts, one of whom is Jemison. Annie and her family are all black.

A solid, small step for diversifying STEM stories. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 6, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-88448-523-0

Page Count: 36

Publisher: Tilbury House

Review Posted Online: Feb. 4, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2018

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