Ernestine is a sheer delight in this nostalgic, warm memory of a special time and a remote place.

ERNESTINE'S MILKY WAY

Ernestine lives on a farm in the Great Smoky Mountains.

Her father is away in “the war” (identified in an author’s note as World War II), and her mother is expecting twins very soon. Ernestine’s days are filled with chores, and at night there is warm milk and comfort in Mama’s assurance that Daddy is looking up and seeing the same stars they are viewing. When Mama assigns her the task of bringing two large mason jars of milk to a neighbor family, she is ready for the task. As she makes the trek she hears scary sounds and imagines dangerous animals lying in wait. She reassures herself by shouting her mantra, “I’m five years old and a big girl,” and each time discovers only small, benign creatures instead of fierce beasts. She drops one milk jar, which rolls away, but arrives safely at the neighbor’s home with the remaining one. The lost milk jar is found, containing a delightful surprise, and a joyous breakfast ensues. The author employs lovely lilting language to describe the rural setting. Descriptors of the path’s vagaries are repeated as Ernestine makes her way, taking readers along with her through the “valley of doghobble and devil’s walking stick.” Sutton’s brightly hued watercolor-and-ink illustrations effortlessly convey the time period, setting, and events, and they express Ernestine’s every emotion.

Ernestine is a sheer delight in this nostalgic, warm memory of a special time and a remote place. (recipe) (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: March 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5247-1484-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Schwartz & Wade/Random

Review Posted Online: Nov. 26, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2018

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A charming blend of whimsy and medieval heroism highlighting the triumph of brains over brawn.

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KNIGHT OWL

A young owl achieves his grand ambition.

Owl, an adorably earnest and gallant little owlet, dreams of being a knight. He imagines himself defeating dragons and winning favor far and wide through his brave exploits. When a record number of knights go missing, Owl applies to Knight School and is surprisingly accepted. He is much smaller than the other knights-in-training, struggles to wield weapons, and has “a habit of nodding off during the day.” Nevertheless, he graduates and is assigned to the Knight Night Watch. While patrolling the castle walls one night, a hungry dragon shows up and Owl must use his wits to avoid meeting a terrible end. The result is both humorous and heartwarming, offering an affirmation of courage and clear thinking no matter one’s size…and demonstrating the power of a midnight snack. The story never directly addresses the question of the missing knights, but it is hinted that they became the dragon’s fodder, leaving readers to question Owl’s decision to befriend the beast. Humor is supplied by the characters’ facial expressions and accented by the fact that Owl is the only animal in his order of big, burly human knights. Denise’s accomplished digital illustrations—many of which are full bleeds—often use a warm sepia palette that evokes a feeling of antiquity, and some spreads feature a pleasing play of chiaroscuro that creates suspense and drama.

A charming blend of whimsy and medieval heroism highlighting the triumph of brains over brawn. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: March 15, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-316-31062-8

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Christy Ottaviano Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 16, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2022

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A touching, beautifully illustrated story of greatest interest to those in the New York City area.

RED AND LULU

A pair of cardinals is separated and then reunited when their tree home is moved to New York City to serve as the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree.

The male cardinal, Red, and his female partner, Lulu, enjoy their home in a huge evergreen tree located in the front yard of a small house in a pleasant neighborhood. When the tree is cut down and hauled away on a truck, Lulu is still inside the tree. Red follows the truck into the city but loses sight of it and gets lost. The birds are reunited when Red finds the tree transformed with colored lights and serving as the Christmas tree in a complex of city buildings. When the tree is removed after Christmas, the birds find a new home in a nearby park. Each following Christmas, the pair visit the new tree erected in the same location. Attractive illustrations effectively handle some difficult challenges of dimension and perspective and create a glowing, magical atmosphere for the snowy Christmas trees. The original owners of the tree are a multiracial family with two children; the father is African-American and the mother is white. The family is in the background in the early pages, reappearing again skating on the rink at Rockefeller Center with their tree in the background.

A touching, beautifully illustrated story of greatest interest to those in the New York City area. (author’s note) (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 19, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-7636-7733-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Aug. 21, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2017

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