With a neat musical twist, this picture book grows on you.

ROOFTOP GARDEN

A community grows plants to the tune of an original song.

In an unnamed city, neighbors, friends, and families gather to grow a garden on the roof of a colorful building. The community members, of various skin colors, ages, and backgrounds, happily plant seeds, mark rows of veggies, water soil, and harvest food used to cook up a feast that they all enjoy together. The timeline is compressed, and the frustration that sometimes comes with gardening is omitted. However, the joy of growing one's own food and enjoying it with others comes through loud and clear: “A garden feast! Oh, what a treat. // Prepare the food and take a seat.” The singsong text, which is narrated in rhyme with repetition of the first and last lines of each quatrain, doesn’t highlight any particular characters or families. The words are actually lyrics to a song composed for the book and sung by British vocalist Holly Torton. While the lyrics might work better when sung rather than read, the book can be appreciated for its effort at combining music with instructional storytelling. Aguilera's colorful illustrations keep things lively with motion and busy activity on the crowded pages; each scene is full of people interacting with each other and working hard toward a common goal. The backmatter includes a musical score for the song, tips to start a garden, a primer on the stages of plant growth, and a QR code to access tie-in media online. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

With a neat musical twist, this picture book grows on you. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: May 16, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-64686-495-9

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Barefoot Books

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2022

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A full-hearted valentine.

THIS IS A SCHOOL

A soaring panegyric to elementary school as a communal place to learn and grow.

“This is a kid,” Schu begins. “This is a kid in a class. This is a class in a hall….” If that class—possibly second graders, though they could be a year to either side of that—numbers only about a dozen in Jamison’s bright paintings, it makes up for that in diversity, with shiny faces of variously brown or olive complexion well outnumbering paler ones; one child using a wheelchair; and at least two who appear to be Asian. (The adult staff is likewise racially diverse.) The children are individualized in the art, but the author’s narrative is addressed more to an older set of readers as it runs almost entirely to collective nouns and abstract concepts: “We share. We help. / This is a community, growing.” Younger audiences will zero in on the pictures, which depict easily recognizable scenes of both individual and collective learning and play, with adults and classmates always on hand to help out or join in. Signs of conflict are unrealistically absent, but an occasional downcast look does add a bit of nuance to the general air of eager positivity on display. A sad face at an apartment window with a comment that “[s]ometimes something happens, and we can’t all be together” can be interpreted as an oblique reference to pandemic closings, but the central message here is that school is a physical space, not a virtual one, where learning and community happen. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A full-hearted valentine. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: March 29, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-5362-0458-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: March 30, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2022

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PIRATES DON'T TAKE BATHS

Echoes of Runaway Bunny color this exchange between a bath-averse piglet and his patient mother. Using a strategy that would probably be a nonstarter in real life, the mother deflects her stubborn offspring’s string of bath-free occupational conceits with appeals to reason: “Pirates NEVER EVER take baths!” “Pirates don’t get seasick either. But you do.” “Yeesh. I’m an astronaut, okay?” “Well, it is hard to bathe in zero gravity. It’s hard to poop and pee in zero gravity too!” And so on, until Mom’s enticing promise of treasure in the deep sea persuades her little Treasure Hunter to take a dive. Chunky figures surrounded by lots of bright white space in Segal’s minimally detailed watercolors keep the visuals as simple as the plotline. The language isn’t quite as basic, though, and as it rendered entirely in dialogue—Mother Pig’s lines are italicized—adult readers will have to work hard at their vocal characterizations for it to make any sense. Moreover, younger audiences (any audiences, come to that) may wonder what the piggy’s watery closing “EUREKA!!!” is all about too. Not particularly persuasive, but this might coax a few young porkers to get their trotters into the tub. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: March 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-399-25425-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: Jan. 26, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2011

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