Though straining in spots, it has the offbeat, sweet style Jeffers’ fans know and love.

WHAT WE'LL BUILD

PLANS FOR OUR TOGETHER FUTURE

An adult and child gather tools and prepare for a future together.

Some things they build are rife with symbolism, such as a shelter to store what they value (including some “love” they set aside) and futures they build for each other, depicted as a series of items in blue and pink waves that spring from a wristwatch. Others are more concrete, like the fortress they build to repel “enemies,” whom they later invite in for tea and apologies. Some of what they build is fantastical (a road to the moon). The book is dedicated to the author’s daughter and is considered a companion piece to Here We Are, published in 2017 and dedicated to his son, though the pair here could still be interpreted as having a different type of caretaker-child relationship. Camaraderie between the two is the thematic focus in this affectionate narrative. Portions of the text’s meaning are somewhat vague (the two lie next to a fire that will “keep us warm like when we’re born”), and the rhyming text, with moments of inconsistent meter, occasionally feels forced. Jeffers fills the pages with an odd, giggle-inducing assortment of creatures; the duo’s former foes include a one-eyed pirate, a witch, a Viking, and (in a very poorly timed choice) a white-coated doctor with a surgical mask, and there are a friendly octopus and birds in space helmets. Adult and child both present White. (This book was reviewed digitally with 11-by-19-inch double-page spreads viewed at actual size.)

Though straining in spots, it has the offbeat, sweet style Jeffers’ fans know and love. (Picture book. 4-9)

Pub Date: Oct. 6, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-20675-1

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2020

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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 multilayered, endearing treasure of a day.

MY DAY WITH GONG GONG

Spending a day with Gong Gong doesn’t sound like very much fun to May.

Gong Gong doesn’t speak English, and May doesn’t know Chinese. How can they have a good day together? As they stroll through an urban Chinatown, May’s perpetually sanguine maternal grandfather chats with friends and visits shops. At each stop, Cantonese words fly back and forth, many clearly pointed at May, who understands none of it. It’s equally exasperating trying to communicate with Gong Gong in English, and by the time they join a card game in the park with Gong Gong’s friends, May is tired, hungry, and frustrated. But although it seems like Gong Gong hasn’t been attentive so far, when May’s day finally comes to a head, it is clear that he has. First-person text gives glimpses into May’s lively thoughts as they evolve through the day, and Gong Gong’s unchangingly jolly face reflects what could be mistaken for blithe obliviousness but is actually his way of showing love through sharing the people and places of his life. Through adorable illustrations that exude humor and warmth, this portrait of intergenerational affection is also a tribute to life in Chinatown neighborhoods: Street vendors, a busker playing a Chinese violin, a dim sum restaurant, and more all combine to add a distinctive texture. 

A multilayered, endearing treasure of a day. (glossary) (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 8, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-77321-429-0

Page Count: 36

Publisher: Annick Press

Review Posted Online: June 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2020

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