A reassuring story that should leave readers feeling a bit more self-confident.

THE VERY LAST LEAF

How do leaves know when to fall?

Lance Cottonwood is the sharpest leaf in school. He aces all his courses, including Budding, Wind Resistance, Photosynthesis 101, and Pigment Changing. The autumn semester brings anxiety, though. How will he pass the final exam and float effortlessly from his tree to the ground as he’s supposed to? Lance has a big problem for a leaf: He’s afraid of falling. He makes excuses for not doing it, then determines to emulate an evergreen cluster and remain tree-bound all winter. After a kindly teacher helps him overcome his fears, he decides to just do it. With encouragement from teacher and schoolmates, Lance lets go and lands on the ground safely. This jaunty, endearing autumn story might help anxious youngsters confront their own apprehension at facing worrisome experiences. Even though Lance literally lets go, he doesn’t let go of his fears but rather understands and accepts them—and performs the scary activity anyway, feeling proud of himself afterward. Besides reassuring readers, the tale provides some facts about trees. Autumn-colored display type, sometimes capitalized, appears throughout to express Lance’s and other characters’ dialogue. The charming illustrations depict sweet-faced, expressive, heart-shaped Lance and fellow leaves rendered in fall colors. A fact-based “progress report” for Lance appears on the final page.

A reassuring story that should leave readers feeling a bit more self-confident. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-68446-104-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Capstone Editions

Review Posted Online: April 8, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2020

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Nice enough, but its twinkle is on the faint side.

TWINKLE TWINKLE LITTLE KID

A boy gets an unusual payoff after wishing on a star.

Sitting outside one night, Clyde notices a lone star in the sky. He recites the “Star light, star bright” incantation and makes a wish. Disappointed when it doesn’t come true, he returns home. But later, while he’s asleep, the star he’d wished on sneaks into his bedroom and makes a wish on him! Startled awake, Clyde wonders how to grant Star’s wish. He shares some ideas (and actual objects) with her: a game of checkers, tent camping, tossing a Frisbee, and walkie-talkies. Star likes them, but they’re not her wishes; Clyde confides there’s no one to enjoy them with—and wonders if perhaps Star had wished for a friend. No one will be surprised at what Clyde next confesses to Star. The pair winds up playing together and becoming besties. This is a sweet but thin and predictable story about making friends. Still, readers will appreciate meeting feisty, celestial Star. The author reaches for humor using colloquialisms (“freaked out”), and kids will like the comfortable familiarity that develops between the cheery protagonists. The colored-pencil illustrations are rendered in a limited palette of mostly dark blues and purples, appropriate to the nighttime setting. Star is a luminous, pale yellow with a white topknot and has a star-dappled aura around her. Purple-pj’d Clyde wears bunny slippers and presents White. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Nice enough, but its twinkle is on the faint side. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 3, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-399-17132-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2021

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Between its autumn and field-trip themes and the fact that not many books start countdowns from 20, this may find its way to...

PUMPKIN COUNTDOWN

A class visits the pumpkin patch, giving readers a chance to count down from 20.

At the farm, Farmer Mixenmatch gives them the tour, which includes a petting zoo, an educational area, a corn maze and a tractor ride to the pumpkin patch. Holub’s text cleverly though not always successfully rhymes each child’s name within the line: “ ‘Eighteen kids get on our bus,’ says Russ. / ‘But someone’s late,’ says Kate. / ‘Wait for me!’ calls Kiri.” Pumpkins at the tops of pages contain the numerals that match the text, allowing readers to pair them with the orange-colored, spelled-out numbers. Some of the objects proffered to count are a bit of a stretch—“Guess sixteen things we’ll see,” count 14 cars that arrived at the farm before the bus—but Smith’s artwork keeps things easy to count, except for a challenging page that asks readers to search for 17 orange items (answers are at the bottom, upside down). Strangely, Holub includes one page with nothing to count—a sign marks “15 Pumpkin Street.” Charming, multicultural round-faced characters and lots of detail encourage readers to go back through the book scouring pages for the 16 things the kids guessed they might see. Endpapers featuring a smattering of pumpkin facts round out the text.

Between its autumn and field-trip themes and the fact that not many books start countdowns from 20, this may find its way to many library shelves. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: July 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-8075-6660-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Whitman

Review Posted Online: May 16, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2012

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