The grass is not always greener in this simple, gentle, beautifully illustrated tale.

THE LITTLE GARDENER

A gardener transplants a daisy into his neighbor’s lawn with surprising results.

Originally published in German in Switzerland in 1985, this unassuming story of George, an aging gardener able to converse with flowers, birds, and animals in his small garden, offers a surprising lesson in contentment. George prefers his “lovely meadow, dotted with red and white clover, dandelions, and daisies” and his untamed wild roses and bluebells, to his neighbor’s formal lawn and garden with its “splendid roses, stately delphiniums, noble lilies, and elegant carnations.” Describing the neighbor’s flowers to his own modest blooms, George feels badly when a small daisy complains that it, too, wants to grow “next to roses and lilies” instead of “weeds.” George secretly transplants his discontented daisy into the middle of the neighbor’s pristine lawn, but the angry neighbor removes the daisy, tossing it onto the compost, leaving George to orchestrate a rescue. Delicately drawn, softly edged, pastel illustrations sharply contrast genial George, embracing everything in his small, bucolic, borderless garden with its wildflowers, untrimmed trees, twittering birds, and scurrying hedgehogs, with his scowling neighbor, who violently ejects a small offending daisy from his large, formal, rigidly bordered beds of perfectly positioned flowers, pruned trees, artificial birds, and garden gnomes. Children will easily see that difference. Both gardeners present white.

The grass is not always greener in this simple, gentle, beautifully illustrated tale. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: April 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-7358-4347-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: NorthSouth

Review Posted Online: Jan. 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2019

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Energetic and earnest but not groundbreaking.

I'M NOT SCARED, YOU'RE SCARED

Unlikely friends Bear and Rabbit face fears together.

The anthropomorphic creatures set out on an adventure. Graphic-based illustrations give the book a Pixar movie feel, with a variety of page layouts that keep the story moving. Large blocks of black text are heavy on dialogue patterns as timid Bear and bold Rabbit encounter obstacles. Bear fears every one of them, from the stream to the mountain. He’ll do anything to avoid the objects of terror: taking a bus, a train, and even a helicopter. As Rabbit asks Bear if he’s frightened, Bear repeatedly responds, “I’m not scared, you’re scared!” and children will delight in the call-and-response opportunities. Adults may tire of the refrain, but attempts to keep everyone entertained are evident in asides about Bear's inability to brush food from his teeth (he’s too afraid to look at himself in the mirror) and Rabbit's superstrong ears (which do come in handy later). When Rabbit finds herself in danger after Bear defects on the adventure, Bear retraces the trip. Along the way, he notes that the stream wasn't as deep, nor the mountain as high, as he thought when he was scared. While picture-book shelves may not be screaming for another comedically sweet bear story, especially one that treads such familiar territory, many readers will appreciate this tale of overcoming fears. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Energetic and earnest but not groundbreaking. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: March 15, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-35237-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Flamingo Books

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2022

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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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