BABIES IN THE BAYOU

A poetic text and soft acrylics present the various baby animals found in a bayou. Baby alligators “with black and yellow tails / and smiling mouths of sharp white teeth,” baby raccoons “with rings around their tails,” baby turtles “with shells upon their backs / and strong little legs to carry them” and baby ducks “with webs between their toes” form the progression in this deceptively simple, lovely offering. The text doesn’t name the animals at first, allowing children to take their cues from the illustrations and the textual clues, a technique that both encourages readers to interact with the narrative and highlights the lyricism of the language. Visually, the illustrations excel, a filtered green light unifying each scene, perspectives varying in a celebration of the richness of an environment in which the line between air and water seems almost nonexistent. The babies themselves are presented sequentially, each subsequent animal appearing appropriately in context (often as predator and prey) with its preceding one, until cycling back around to the first. No one does this better than Arnosky, and here, he is at his best. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2007

ISBN: 0-399-22653-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2006

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FARFALLINA & MARCEL

Farfallina the caterpillar and Marcel the gosling become fast friends when they meet during a rainshower, taking an immediate liking to one another. The two play hide-and-seek, each taking into account the strengths and weaknesses of the other (Marcel can’t climb trees like Farfallina, Farfallina can’t move as fast as Marcel) and enjoy traversing the pond together, Farfallina riding on Marcel’s back. One day, Farfallina doesn’t feel like herself, so she climbs a tree while Marcel waits at the bottom. He waits and waits, until finally, lonely and worried, he gives up. When he next sees his reflection in the pond, he can hardly recognize himself; he’s grown so much. Alert readers will surmise that Farfallina has done some growing of her own, and it’s true: when she finally emerges, she has become a beautiful butterfly. She descends, saddened that Marcel did not wait for her; the only creature in the vicinity is a handsome goose in their pond. Of course, the goose is Marcel, but neither friend recognizes the other. They are attracted to one another all over again, and are overjoyed and amazed to realize each other’s true identity. Keller’s (Cecil’s Garden, 2001, etc.) watercolor illustrations feature a bright pink caterpillar Farfallina, who turns into a glorious orange butterfly, and a realistically gray-brown Marcel against backgrounds of summery, outdoorsy blues and greens. This heartwarming, colorfully illustrated story underscores beautifully the power of true friendship without glossing over the reality that change is inevitable as friends grow and mature. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2002

ISBN: 0-06-623932-X

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2002

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A TREE IS NICE

A nursery school approach to a general concept. "A tree is nice"- Why? Because..."We can climb the tree...play pirate ship...pick the apples...build playhouses out of the leaves. A tree is nice to hang a swing in...Birds build nests in trees... Sticks come off trees...People have picnics there too"...etc. etc. One follows the give and take of a shared succession of reactions to what a tree- or trees- can mean. There is a kind of poetic simplicity that is innate in small children. Marc Simont has made the pictures, half in full color, and they too have a childlike directness (with an underlying sophistication that adults will recognize). Not a book for everyone -but those who like it will like it immensely. The format (6 x 11) makes it a difficult book for shelving, so put it in the "clean hands" section of flat books. Here's your first book for Arbor Day use- a good spring and summer item.

Pub Date: June 15, 1956

ISBN: 978-0-06-443147-7

Page Count: 36

Publisher: Harper

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1956

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