A tale of kitchen whimsy starring an underrepresented hero.


A child and mother follow a grandmother’s famous cupcake recipe, unleashing a magical storm of ingredients in this cleverly inclusive rhyming picture book.

A pale, sports-loving child with orange hair, red pants, and a striped blue and white shirt plans for an average day baking when something magical happens. “Our ingredients were out, all placed in a row, / but then somehow, it started to snow!” the child recounts. It’s not snow pouring from the ceiling but flour, and as soon as the narrator scoops some into the bowl, the flour storm stops. Next, milk pours from the faucet, sugar floods under the doors, eggs drop from the ceiling, and butter flows across the floor. As each ingredient is added, the last storm stops, until salt, vanilla, and baking powder are all added to the mix. After a dash of sprinkles, the cupcakes go in the oven, and the result is delicious. The narrator offers an almost Jack Prelutsky–ian tale of kitchen chaos, never mentioning in the text the limb difference shown in Bassani’s fantastical cartoon illustrations. The child’s shorter arm doesn’t ever hinder adding each ingredient and stirring it into the mixing bowl; instead, this story is about magic, chaos, and baking a family recipe, and it features a hero with a limb difference. Parham’s scansion sometimes adds or drops a beat, but the rhymes are solid, with fun-to-say words (goop, bonkers) sprinkled throughout.

A tale of kitchen whimsy starring an underrepresented hero.

Pub Date: Jan. 4, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-63755-013-7

Page Count: 38

Publisher: Mascot Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 7, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2022

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Energetic and earnest but not groundbreaking.


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.


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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