Gardening goodness, just the ticket for a science storytime or cozy lap reading.

ARLO ROLLED

Arlo the pea wants to grow up to find out what he’ll be.

“At the end of the garden, / next to the berries, // lived Mary / and Gary / and Terry / and Sherry… / and Arlo.” Arlo has no desire to end up in a salad or a stir-fry, so he drops to the ground and begins an epic roll. “Past cucumbers, lettuce, a red-spotted bug— / until he bumped into a hungry gray slug.” The slug tries to eat him, but Arlo escapes and continues his roll past a hungry stink bug and out of the garden into the yard. In the yard, he evades a huge crow and a line of ants having a snack attack, eventually rolling up to a digging dog that flings Arlo through the air. Pooped, Arlo goes to sleep—and while he’s asleep, he grows. One sunny day, he wakes up to discover he’s a vine. He’s so happy he blossoms and starts the process all over. Pearson’s rhymed tale is not only good fun to read, but it’s also a great introduction to the plant life cycle. Ebbeler’s acrylic illustrations of bespectacled Arlo are a mix of full-bleed and panels, and with their vertiginous perspectives, they add extra bounce to this pea’s promenade.

Gardening goodness, just the ticket for a science storytime or cozy lap reading. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: April 8, 2014

ISBN: 978-1477847213

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Two Lions

Review Posted Online: Feb. 26, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2014

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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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