WE PLANTED A TREE

Using a quote from Wangari Maathai as a springboard, Muldrow’s poem delineates the tree’s seasonal cycles and celebrates its benefits for living creatures. In natural language, the narrator adopts a global view, lauding her subject’s abilities to cool the earth, clean the air and prevent erosion (“The tree kept the soil from blowing away— / Now rainwater could stay in the earth”). Staake is an accomplished illustrator with many New Yorker covers under his belt. His ultra-stylized depictions rove from Brooklyn to a presumed African plain, to Tokyo, Paris, New England and possibly the Cinque Terre (though one where apples and lemons yield concurrently), riding roughshod over the poet’s delicate allusions. The stripped-down computer-generated pictures vie with the ecology-focused subject rather than extending it, and the pie-eyed, inane expressions of the humans depicted around the globe flirt visually with the stereotypical cultural caricatures common to the mid-century European advertising posters that the illustrator credits as influences. Consider instead other children’s works inspired by Maathai, such as Donna Jo Napoli’s Mama Miti, illustrated by Kadir Nelson (2010). (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: March 9, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-375-86432-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Golden Books/Random

Review Posted Online: Dec. 30, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2010

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

UNDER THE SNOW

A snow-covered countryside may look barren of life, but Stewart’s quiet text takes readers under the blanket of white to “a hidden world” where ladybugs sleep en masse and voles tunnel from tree to tree, where a wood frog freezes safely solid and bluegills and waterboatmen share frigid waters, where a turtle lies buried in mud and “even on the coldest winter days, red-spotted newts dodge and dart, whiz and whirl just below the ice.” Bergum’s equally quiet watercolors spread across the pages in panels that offer cross-sections and magnified details to give readers glimpses of the world beneath the snow. Their precision lends a dignity and beauty even to a sleeping centipede and a barbeled carp. Readers will come away with an appreciation for the adaptability and endurance of the animal world. (Informational picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2009

ISBN: 978-1-56145-493-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Peachtree

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2009

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more