So-so verse but a warming message for the heart and a feast for the eyes.

WELCOME FLOWER CHILD

THE MAGIC OF YOUR BIRTH FLOWER

A monthly party of positivity hosted by garden fairies.

This book’s dedication sets the positive tone: “Every child is a different kind of flower, and all together make this world a beautiful garden.” Anchoring the title page, fanciful winged garden fairies parade the flowers to be highlighted in the ensuing text. Most are familiar (daffodil, rose, poppy, etc.), but the list doesn’t seem to duplicate any standard list of birth months and flowers. Within, each double-page spread contains a four-line verse with an encouraging message for that month. “December: Poinsettia / December’s flowers are vibrant and strong. / They raise our spirits like a song. / Your sweetness and courage are a gift / that gives our hearts a cheerful lift.” The verse is singsong-y, with the occasional metrical stumble and more than occasional cliché. The real joy of this book is the illustrations, with colors as vibrant as a brilliant sunset. Garden snapshots pop against lighter backgrounds. Close inspection of the illustrations will reveal garden fairies, moths, and butterflies. The most observant readers will also spot a mouse, a spider, ladybugs, caterpillars, and dragonflies. (This book was reviewed digitally with 9.5-by-19-inch double-page spreads viewed at 39.9% of actual size.)

So-so verse but a warming message for the heart and a feast for the eyes. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Jan. 5, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-984830-39-5

Page Count: 42

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 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 good choice to share with wriggly listeners, who will soon be joining in.

AT THE OLD HAUNTED HOUSE

A Halloween book that rides on the rhythms of “Over in the Meadow.”

Although Halloween rhyming counting books abound, this stands out, with a text that begs to be read aloud and cartoony digital illustrations that add goofy appeal. A girl and two boys set off on Halloween night to go trick-or-treating. As the children leave the cozy, warm glow of their street, readers see a haunted house on a hill, with gravestones dotting the front yard. Climbing the twisty path to the dark estate takes time, so the story turns to the antics inside the house. “At the old haunted house in a room with no sun / lived a warty green witch and her wee witch one. ‘SPELL!’ cried the witch. ‘POOF!’ cried the one. / And they both practiced spells in the room with no sun.” The actions of the scary creatures within may seem odd, but the rhyme must go on: Cats scratch, goblins dust, monsters stir, and mummies mix. Eventually the three kids reach the front door and are invited in for stew, cake and brew. At first shocked by the gruesome fare, the children recover quickly and get caught up in partying with the slightly spooky but friendly menagerie.

A good choice to share with wriggly listeners, who will soon be joining in. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Aug. 12, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4778-4769-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Two Lions

Review Posted Online: July 16, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2014

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