Lovely and life-affirming.

FLOAT

This wordless story, bookended by the creation of two iconic paper toys, follows a Latino boy through outdoor playtime.

After his father folds a boat from a sheet of newspaper with a photo of sailboats on it, the boy sets off in head-to-toe yellow raingear. He shields his boat from a downpour, then floats it in puddles that reflect the tidy neighborhood’s houses and trees. After some joyous puddle-jumping, the boy sets the boat into a sluicing rivulet, pursuing it as it’s swept away. When the boat slips down a grate, the dramatic perspective is from the inky dark underground, the boy futilely stretching an arm through the bars. Washed from a drainage pipe into a stream, the erstwhile boat, now a sodden sheet, is fished out by the dejected lad. He walks home to the comfort of dad’s hug, dry clothes, and expertly blown-dry hair. There’s shared hot cocoa and more newspaper-folding. (This time, a jet’s photo appears.) Digitally rendered in grays accented in yellow, the pictures’ hyper-realistic style is softened by dry-brush effects and the boy’s captured emotions. The penultimate composition looks through the open doorway to the boy on the front porch. Now in shorts and T-shirt, clutching a paper airplane, he’s silhouetted against a square of brilliant yellow sky. That yellow dominates the final spread, celebrating housetops, as the boy readies for his first launch.

Lovely and life-affirming. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: June 9, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4814-1524-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Feb. 23, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2015

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Not astonishingly go-out-and-buy-it-at-graduation inspirational, but all it takes is one seed of change to be planted.

GOING PLACES

Imagination soars—quite literally—when a little girl follows her own set of rules.

Every year Oak Hill School has a go-kart race called the Going Places contest. Students are given identical go-kart kits with a precise set of instructions. And of course, every single kart ends up exactly the same. Every one, that is, except Maya’s. Maya is a dreamy artist, and she would rather sketch birds in her backyard than get caught up in the competition. When she finally does start working, she uses the parts in the go-kart box but creates something completely different. No one ever said it had to be a go-kart. Maya’s creative thinking inspires Rafael, her neighbor (and the most enthusiastic Going Places contestant), to ask to team up. The instructions never say they couldn’t work together, either! An ode to creativity and individuality to be sure, but the Reynolds brothers are also taking a swipe at modern education: Endless repetition and following instructions without question create a culture of conformity. Hopefully now, readers will see infinite possibility every time the system hands them an identical go-kart box.

Not astonishingly go-out-and-buy-it-at-graduation inspirational, but all it takes is one seed of change to be planted. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: March 18, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4424-6608-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: Jan. 15, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 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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