A well-played serenade to the power of kindness and community.


Newly arrived in Delaware from Jamaica, Marley is determined to make new friends by performing an outdoor family concert for her neighbors.

The weather, however, has other plans. Marley’s parents and older sister seem ready for a rain check as a downpour drags on outside, but Marley and her two younger brothers, Axel and Zayne, won’t be dissuaded. “You can’t fix a problem until you look at it up close,” Marley tells her mother, then the three children don rain gear and head for the park. Having experienced tropical storms back in Jamaica, Marley decides that the concert can go on if many umbrellas are hung from the overhead stage lights. “Who has that many umbrellas?” Axel asks skeptically. Marley decides they will help their neighbors with their storm problems in exchange for umbrellas. The siblings cheerfully and determinedly rescue a cat, bail out a flooded basement, and pick produce in a greenhouse. The plan works well until they meet someone who needs all the umbrellas they have collected. There is a small moment of hesitation when Marley’s smile loses its sunniness, but she and her brothers head home empty-handed. The ending is both unsurprising and gratifying. The vibrant digital watercolor-and-crayon illustrations coupled with the communal focus of the text set a positive tone throughout. The joy of music is present in textual metaphors as well as visual representations of instruments and musical notes, even in the endpapers. Marley and her family are Black, while the neighbors have skin tones that range from pale to dark.

A well-played serenade to the power of kindness and community. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-30111-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Nov. 16, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2021

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A good bet for the youngest bird-watchers.


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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This simple and sincere tale of working up courage to face fears makes quite a splash.


Young Jabari decides today is the day he is going to jump from the diving board, even though it’s a little high and a little scary.

Jabari’s father and baby sister accompany him to the swimming pool in the city, where Jabari has already made up his mind about today’s goal: jumping off the diving board. “I’m a great jumper,” he says, “so I’m not scared at all.” But that’s not entirely true. Readers see Jabari play the waiting game as the other children (a diverse bunch) make their ways past him in line. Once Jabari finally begins to climb up, he slyly remembers that he forgot to “stretch.” The stalling techniques don’t faze his dad, who sees an opportunity for a life lesson. “It’s okay to feel a little scared,” offers his dad at the side of the pool. With renewed will, Jabari returns to the towering diving board, ready to embrace the feat. In her debut, Cornwall places her loving black family at the center, coloring the swimming pool and park beyond in minty hues and adding whimsy with digitally collaged newspaper for skyscrapers. A bird’s-eye view of Jabari’s toes clinging to the edge of the diving board as he looks way, way down at the blue pool below puts readers in his head and in the action.

This simple and sincere tale of working up courage to face fears makes quite a splash. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: May 9, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-7636-7838-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: March 6, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2017

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