Readers with maples get ready: kids are sure to want to try their hands at boiling their own syrup.

MAPLE SYRUP FROM THE SUGARHOUSE

A group of family and friends performs the chores in the sugar bush that lead to fresh maple syrup.

It’s not just collecting sap and boiling it: bottles must be sterilized, wood gathered and stacked, the sugar content of the boiling syrup monitored, and the finished syrup filtered and bottled. As young Kelsey follows her father around the wood, it’s clear this isn’t her first exposure to this northeastern spring ritual, though this is belied by didactic and expository dialogue, as when Daddy explains how the trees have stored sugar over the winter. Kelsey’s chores are kid-appropriate: hammering spiles, hanging buckets, stacking and carrying wood, and curiously peeking and asking about the syrup’s readiness as it boils. The boiling goes on all night and into the next morning, when the family enjoys a maple syrup–centered breakfast while waiting for the sap buckets to fill again. Mitter’s illustrations play up the camaraderie of working together. Skin tones range from Kelsey’s own white skin to light and dark browns in this multiracial gathering. While the tractor and single storage tank indicate that this is not a large-scale operation, the evaporator and dedicated sugar shack mean this isn’t just a hobby, either. The final page includes more facts about maple syrup.

Readers with maples get ready: kids are sure to want to try their hands at boiling their own syrup. (Picture book. 3-9)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-8075-7943-5

Page Count: 37

Publisher: Whitman

Review Posted Online: Oct. 1, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2017

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Visually accomplished but marred by stereotypical cultural depictions.

HOME

Ellis, known for her illustrations for Colin Meloy’s Wildwood series, here riffs on the concept of “home.”

Shifting among homes mundane and speculative, contemporary and not, Ellis begins and ends with views of her own home and a peek into her studio. She highlights palaces and mansions, but she also takes readers to animal homes and a certain famously folkloric shoe (whose iconic Old Woman manages a passel of multiethnic kids absorbed in daring games). One spread showcases “some folks” who “live on the road”; a band unloads its tour bus in front of a theater marquee. Ellis’ compelling ink and gouache paintings, in a palette of blue-grays, sepia and brick red, depict scenes ranging from mythical, underwater Atlantis to a distant moonscape. Another spread, depicting a garden and large building under connected, transparent domes, invites readers to wonder: “Who in the world lives here? / And why?” (Earth is seen as a distant blue marble.) Some of Ellis’ chosen depictions, oddly juxtaposed and stripped of any historical or cultural context due to the stylized design and spare text, become stereotypical. “Some homes are boats. / Some homes are wigwams.” A sailing ship’s crew seems poised to land near a trio of men clad in breechcloths—otherwise unidentified and unremarked upon.

Visually accomplished but marred by stereotypical cultural depictions. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 24, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-7636-6529-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Nov. 18, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2014

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

This extraordinary book will make it hard for any child reader to settle for the mundaneness of reality.

WHAT IF...

A testament to the power of an imaginative mind.

A compulsively creative, unnamed, brown-skinned little girl with purple hair wonders what she would do if the pencil she uses “to create…stories that come from my heart” disappeared. Turns out, it wouldn’t matter. Art can take many forms. She can fold paper (origami), carve wood, tear wallpaper to create texture designs, and draw in the dirt. She can even craft art with light and darkness or singing and dancing. At the story’s climax, her unencumbered imagination explodes beyond the page into a foldout spread, enabling readers both literally and figuratively to see into her fantasy life. While readers will find much to love in the exuberant rhyming verse, attending closely to the illustrations brings its own rewards given the fascinating combinations of mixed media Curato employs. For instance, an impressively colorful dragon is made up of different leaves that have been photographed in every color phase from green to deep red, including the dragon’s breath (made from the brilliant orange leaves of a Japanese maple) and its nose and scales (created by the fan-shaped, butter-colored leaves of a gingko). Sugar cubes, flower petals, sand, paper bags, marbles, sequins, and lots more add to and compose these brilliant, fantasy-sparking illustrations.

This extraordinary book will make it hard for any child reader to settle for the mundaneness of reality. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: April 3, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-316-39096-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Jan. 13, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2018

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more