WHY IS THE SNOW WHITE?

A pourquoi tale about how Father Snow sought colors for the snow from the flowers is fodder for a father’s winter bedtime tale.

Once, the snow was clear and colorless, but a meadow of brilliant flowers leads Father Snow to wonder what colored snow might be like. The violet is willing to lend him some of her color, but just as the snow starts to turn purple, she grabs her hue back: “But I…I need my color.” He gets the same reaction from the yellow sunflower, the red rose, the green blade of grass, the blue cornflower and many other brightly colored flowers. Finally, he queries one last flower, white with tiny bells, and the snowdrop grants the snow her white color. Didacticism runs rampant through Janisch’s translated text, seen most clearly in the adverbs: The flowers all snatch their colors back hastily, impetuously, bitterly, carelessly. But what makes it so confusing is that Leffler’s illustrations never make it clear what the flowers are so afraid of—their unexpected and uncalled-for rudeness seems both out of place and over the top, since they are never portrayed as colorless, even while Father Snow tests out their colors. Her flowers have an old-fashioned color and style to them, and Father Snow is a transparent outline that takes on the color of the anthropomorphized bloom he is speaking to.

Humorless and illogical. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-7358-4092-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: NorthSouth

Review Posted Online: Sept. 12, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2012

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A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift.

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BECAUSE I HAD A TEACHER

A paean to teachers and their surrogates everywhere.

This gentle ode to a teacher’s skill at inspiring, encouraging, and being a role model is spoken, presumably, from a child’s viewpoint. However, the voice could equally be that of an adult, because who can’t look back upon teachers or other early mentors who gave of themselves and offered their pupils so much? Indeed, some of the self-aware, self-assured expressions herein seem perhaps more realistic as uttered from one who’s already grown. Alternatively, readers won’t fail to note that this small book, illustrated with gentle soy-ink drawings and featuring an adult-child bear duo engaged in various sedentary and lively pursuits, could just as easily be about human parent- (or grandparent-) child pairs: some of the softly colored illustrations depict scenarios that are more likely to occur within a home and/or other family-oriented setting. Makes sense: aren’t parents and other close family members children’s first teachers? This duality suggests that the book might be best shared one-on-one between a nostalgic adult and a child who’s developed some self-confidence, having learned a thing or two from a parent, grandparent, older relative, or classroom instructor.

A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-943200-08-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Compendium

Review Posted Online: Dec. 14, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

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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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