Relentlessly facile—but if action ever begins with goal visualization, at least a place to start.

HEAL THE EARTH

From the Julian Lennon White Feather Flier Adventure series , Vol. 2

Following Touch the Earth (2017), young readers are invited to fly on further missions of mercy to our beleaguered planet and its residents.

A feather converts with a tap on the image of a button in the right-hand corner of the spread and a page turn to a White Feather Flier (named after Lennon’s charitable White Feather Foundation) that transports, in Coh’s misty, painted pictures, a thoroughly diverse quartet of children to a variety of troubled places. They visit in succession a town whose residents lack medical services, a bleached coral reef, a drab urban neighborhood, and a clear-cut rainforest. At every stop, further taps on a button image bring instant relief: The Flier becomes a mobile hospital; “zooks” (zooxanthellae, depicted as tiny green cells with smiley faces) return to give the reef color and life; the city gets a new green space; and the devastated forest’s flora and fauna are restored to lush life. Following vague exhortations to “work together” and to “make healing an adventure,” Lennon concludes with six solo-credited stanzas of similarly airy sentiment: “Come together, see it through, / End disease and hunger too. / Help the children, one and all. / Winter, Summer, Spring, and Fall.” Thoughtfully, the humans in need are depicted as diverse and not uniformly brown; slightly less thoughtfully, one of the two brown-skinned children among the helpers is depicted with knotted hair that recalls the pickaninny stereotype.

Relentlessly facile—but if action ever begins with goal visualization, at least a place to start. (author’s note) (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: April 3, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5107-2853-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Sky Pony Press

Review Posted Online: Feb. 13, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2018

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Earnest and silly by turns, it doesn’t quite capture the attention or the imagination, although surely its heart is in the...

ROSIE REVERE, ENGINEER

Rhymed couplets convey the story of a girl who likes to build things but is shy about it. Neither the poetry nor Rosie’s projects always work well.

Rosie picks up trash and oddments where she finds them, stashing them in her attic room to work on at night. Once, she made a hat for her favorite zookeeper uncle to keep pythons away, and he laughed so hard that she never made anything publicly again. But when her great-great-aunt Rose comes to visit and reminds Rosie of her own past building airplanes, she expresses her regret that she still has not had the chance to fly. Great-great-aunt Rose is visibly modeled on Rosie the Riveter, the iconic, red-bandanna–wearing poster woman from World War II. Rosie decides to build a flying machine and does so (it’s a heli-o-cheese-copter), but it fails. She’s just about to swear off making stuff forever when Aunt Rose congratulates her on her failure; now she can go on to try again. Rosie wears her hair swooped over one eye (just like great-great-aunt Rose), and other figures have exaggerated hairdos, tiny feet and elongated or greatly rounded bodies. The detritus of Rosie’s collections is fascinating, from broken dolls and stuffed animals to nails, tools, pencils, old lamps and possibly an erector set. And cheddar-cheese spray.

Earnest and silly by turns, it doesn’t quite capture the attention or the imagination, although surely its heart is in the right place. (historical note) (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-4197-0845-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2013

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Kids will enjoy the quirky visuals while appreciating the creative relationship of these two companions.

MAXINE AND THE GREATEST GARDEN EVER

Two friends strengthen their bond when their gardening project needs more ingenuity than originally anticipated.

Maxine, a science-oriented little White girl with a pet goldfish, loves to read and make constructive gadgets. Her friend Leo, a little Black boy, also likes making things, though from an artistic perspective. Together they decide to carefully design a garden. Maxine creates a practical blueprint while Leo draws a colorful diagram. Both plans allow them to plot, dig, and plant a beautiful and expansive space that includes a pond for Milton, Maxine’s pet fish. After their produce begins to sprout, however, some unwanted visitors slink in to ravage the fruits of all their hard work. Oh, no—now they need a new idea to keep those critters away. An average scarecrow doesn’t do the trick, so the kids get to work and build a “critter-creeping, laser-tripping, disco-ball-blinking, tuba-tooting… / SUPER SPECTACULAR SCARECROW!” But it only makes things worse by loudly disturbing everyone but their animal invaders. Initial disappointment and failure lead to blame and argument and then remorse and apologies. Both Maxine and Leo realize that “it takes a long time to grow a garden…but even longer to grow a friend.” Hatam offers kids lots of minutiae to look at, including clever endpapers with comical one-liners (“Thyme to Turnip the Beet”). Her detailed, animated, vibrant drawings accentuate the drama and neatly depict the concluding message that celebrates compromise. (This book was reviewed digitally with 9-by-17-inch double-page spreads viewed at 62.7% of actual size.)

Kids will enjoy the quirky visuals while appreciating the creative relationship of these two companions. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Feb. 16, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-399-18630-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Nov. 18, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

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