If youngsters scratch their heads, take them to the yard or community garden to plant and make mud pies.


Cronin and Small combine talents in this fable for modern times: people who live in fragile kingdoms may need to get their hands dirty rebuilding.

Bloom the mud fairy lives in a glass kingdom where she turns weeds into blossoms and sand into glass; she also leaves mud and cracks in the glass in her wake. As the kingdom grows and gleams, folks protest Bloom's mess. She takes to the forest, but without her, the kingdom deteriorates. When the royals seek Bloom's magic to save them, they are outraged when the dirty creature places a bucket of mud at their feet. So they send tiny, ordinary Genevieve to talk to Bloom. Although Genevieve has heretofore preserved her delicate hands for the frivolous task of washing the queen’s sugar spoon, with Bloom's coaching she digs her hands into the mud to make...bricks! The text is set in different typefaces and fonts to help the narrative along, while Small uses watercolor washes in cool blues and warm greens and browns to indicate changing tones. Genevieve takes her new-learned "magic" back to the kingdom to rebuild, and the residents rejoice. All the characters, from royals to fairy, are white. The tale is enchanting but somewhat opaque, so metaphorical that children may need significant help from adults to understand it.

If youngsters scratch their heads, take them to the yard or community garden to plant and make mud pies. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 9, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4424-0620-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Caitlyn Dlouhy/Atheneum

Review Posted Online: Oct. 19, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2015

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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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An adorable adventure in cartography.


An exercise of spatial thinking through a snowy forest.

Camilla the warthog collects maps. Maps of stars, New York, even the London Tube. She even owns an ancient map of her forest. Unfortunately for her, she believes all lands have been explored and there is nothing new to chart. However, with a snowy morning comes a new opportunity. When her hedgehog neighbor, Parsley, asks for her help in finding the creek, Camilla quivers with excitement when she realizes the snow-covered land “is uncharted territory.” With all landmarks covered in snow, Camilla and Parsley must use their spatial-reasoning skills and a compass to find a new way to the creek. Their trailblazing journey proves a challenge as they keep bumping into trees, rocks, and walls. But when they find the creek, Camilla will have all the information and tools ready to draw out a new map, to break out in case of another snowfall. Wood’s delightful illustrations and Dillemuth’s expertise in the matter engage readers in the woodland creatures’ adventures. In addition, Dillemuth, who holds a doctorate in geography, provides activities in the backmatter for parents and caregivers to help children develop their own spatial-reasoning skills, such as sketching and reading maps or using cardinal directions.

An adorable adventure in cartography. (author’s note) (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4338-3033-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Magination/American Psychological Association

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

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