Ultimately like Snowzilla—fluff.

SNOWZILLA

Community dissension and compromise are brought down to a kid’s level in this tale of a giant snowman.

With a little help from their family, some equipment and Mother Nature, Cami Lou and her little brother build a huge snowman sporting a hat, scarf and arms with five mittens/gloves each. “Then Cami Lou cheered / as she stood down below. / ‘We’ll call you Snowzilla! / Our giant of snow!’ ” People come from all around to see Snowzilla, but when the townspeople complain of blocked views, scared pets and the threat of flood, the judge rules that he must go. The modern-day girl turns to social media to save her snowman, and the next day, in an operation that could be likened to the moving of the Cape Hatteras lighthouse, people turn out in droves to help hoist and move Snowzilla. But for all the hoopla, Cami Lou is not particularly sad when Snowzilla melts—she is busy planning something even bigger for next year, a disconnect that might catch readers’ attention. Haley’s brightly colored acrylic-and–colored-pencil artwork lends a festive feel to the text. Over-the-top patterns and styles of winter clothing, along with the hairstyles and grimaces of the sourpusses, give her characters personality. The power of a community to pull together and solve problems is definitely in evidence here, though the tale’s sheer implausibility and its sometimes-stumbling rhythms may turn readers off.

Ultimately like Snowzilla—fluff. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 2, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-7614-6188-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Amazon Children's Publishing

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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