Engaging images paired to a less-than-successful text.



There are special names for animal and human homes, but we all call Earth our home.

In her first solo effort, Mundorff (who illustrated Beth Ferry’s A Small Blue Whale, 2017) offers a clever but not entirely successful way to think about how context can change meaning. Beavers live in lodges, otters in couches, and lions in dens; pigs call pigsties home, and a red panda makes its home in a tree. A simple statement about each animal’s home is illustrated across the gutter by a picture of the animal in situ; this is followed by a bright, busy, full-bleed double-page spread showing these animals clothed and living as humans would—enjoying a ski lodge, watching TV on a couch, sitting by the fire in a den, messing up a shared bedroom, or reading in a treehouse. But then the message gets muddled: “One could say dolphins live in pods, herds, or even teams.” These are collective nouns, not names of dwelling places; worse, the noun chosen for whimsical treatment is “team,” as they are depicted playing underwater baseball. Dolphin groups are called pods in both customary and scientific nomenclature. The idea of dwelling places returns with lofts for pigeons and neighborhoods and towns for prairie dogs. The prairie dog town morphs into “a town on Earth, a place / all creatures call home / and live with love,” but by now, readers and listeners may have turned away.

Engaging images paired to a less-than-successful text. (additional facts) (Informational picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: June 18, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-250-21162-0

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Review Posted Online: March 31, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2019

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A $16.99 Mother’s Day card for cat lovers.


The team of Costain and Lovšin (Daddies are Awesome, 2016) gives moms their due.

Rhyming verses tell of all the ways moms are amazing: “Mommies are magic. / They kiss away troubles… // …find gold in the sunlight / and rainbows in bubbles.” Moms are joyful—the best playmates. They are also fearless and will protect and soothe if you are scared. Clever moms know just what to do when you’re sad, sporty moms run and leap and climb, while tender moms cuddle. “My mommy’s so special. / I tell her each day… // … just how much I love her / in every way!” Whereas dads were illustrated with playful pups and grown-up dogs in the previous book, moms are shown as cats with their kittens in myriad colors, sizes, and breeds. Lovšin’s cats look as though they are smiling at each other in their fun, though several spreads are distractingly cut in half by the gutter. However delightful the presentation—the verse rolls fairly smoothly, and the cats are pretty cute—the overall effect is akin to a cream puff’s: very sweet and insubstantial.

A $16.99 Mother’s Day card for cat lovers. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: April 4, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-62779-651-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: March 20, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2017

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So rocket science can be fun.



From the Baby Loves… series

What do you want to be when you grow up?

If they haven’t already thought about their futures (and they probably haven’t), toddlers and preschoolers might start planning after perusing this cheerful first guide to scientific careers. Plump-cheeked, wide-eyed tykes with various skin and hair colors introduce different professions, including zoologist, meteorologist, aerospace engineer, and environmental scientist, depicted with cues to tip readers off to what the jobs entail. The simple text presents the sometimes-long, tongue-twisting career names while helpfully defining them in comprehensible terms. For example, an environmental scientist “helps take care of our world,” and a zoologist is defined as someone who “studies how animals behave.” Scientists in general are identified as those who “study, learn, and solve problems.” Such basic language not only benefits youngsters, but also offers adults sharing the book easy vocabulary with which to expand on conversations with kids about the professions. The title’s ebullient appearance is helped along by the typography: The jobs’ names are set in all caps, printed in color and in a larger font than the surrounding text, and emphasized with exclamation points. Additionally, the buoyant watercolors feature clues to what scientists in these fields work with, such as celestial bodies for astronomers. The youngest listeners won’t necessarily get all of this, but the book works as a rudimentary introduction to STEM topics and a shoutout to scientific endeavors.

So rocket science can be fun. (Informational picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-62354-149-1

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Charlesbridge

Review Posted Online: Aug. 12, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2019

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