Warm, inviting nonfiction, especially for those new to the genre.

PLAY IN THE WILD

HOW BABY ANIMALS LIKE TO HAVE FUN

As is true with tiny humans, play is important in young animals’ development.

Judge looks closely at 27 different animals and the playful habits of their young. Sometimes play helps animals learn how to forage and hunt. Other times, it can be practice for following rules. For some, it can even mean survival. Each subtopic is allotted two double-page spreads. In a dramatic setup scene, a large, bold statement declares an observation, such as: “Many young animals ask first before playing.” Judge depicts one young chimp approaching another that is cradled in mom’s embrace. A smattering of vignettes follows in the next spread. “A young chimpanzee swings his head and shoulders from side to side….That is his way of asking his friend, ‘Do you want to play with me?’ ” However, a sea lion pup “approaches another while holding a piece of kelp that serves as a toy, then quickly swims away.” Kids will delight in comparing their own actions to those of the baby animals. The variety is also impressive: Red river hogs cavort in these pages, along with bottlenose dolphins and wallaby joeys. Judge’s realistic illustrations are both endearing and expressive. Energetic moments are expertly captured. Tufts of fur fly; young ones are caught midpounce or with trunks held high, sending water splashing. The most appealing? The mischievous gleam of fun in everyone’s eyes.

Warm, inviting nonfiction, especially for those new to the genre. (additional facts, glossary, sources, recommended websites) (Informational picture book. 3-8)

Pub Date: June 30, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-23706-4

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Roaring Brook Press

Review Posted Online: April 8, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2020

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Thoughts always inform actions; if we can help youngsters see individuals instead of differences, there’s hope.

WHAT IF EVERYBODY THOUGHT THAT?

From the What If Everybody? series

Thinking mean-spirited thoughts can be just as damaging as saying them out loud.

Javernick and Madden pair up once again (What If Everybody Did That?, 2010 and What If Everybody Said That?, 2018), this time to address bullying in a school setting. One hopes that all schools are diverse with regard to both culture and ability, but it can be difficult to help students see beyond differences. Javernick poses scenarios in which children exhibit varying physical disabilities, learning disabilities, medical conditions, and more. A group of children is often depicted scrutinizing one (four taller kids in gym class look to a shorter one, thinking, “He’s too little to play basketball” and “He’ll NEVER get that ball in the hoop”) as the titular phrase asks, “What if EVERYBODY thought that?” The following spread reads, “They might be wrong” as vignettes show the tiny tot zipping around everyone and scoring. If one sees someone using a wheelchair and automatically thinks, “Too bad she can’t be in the relay race”—well, “they might be wrong.” The (literal) flipside offered to each scenario teaches children to be aware of these automatic assumptions and hopefully change perceptions. Madden’s mixed-media illustrations show a diverse array of characters and have intentional, positive messages hidden within, sometimes scratched in chalk on the ground or hanging up in a frame on a classroom wall.

Thoughts always inform actions; if we can help youngsters see individuals instead of differences, there’s hope. (Picture book. 3-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 27, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5420-9137-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Two Lions

Review Posted Online: April 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2019

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A delightful story of love and hope.

OUR SUBWAY BABY

Families are formed everywhere—including large metropolitan mass-transit systems!

Baby Kevin, initially known as “Danny ACE Doe,” was found in the New York City’s 14th Street subway station, which serves the A-C-E lines, by one of his future fathers, Danny. Kevin’s other father, Pete (author Mercurio), serves as the narrator, explaining how the two men came to add the newborn to their family. Readers are given an abridged version of the story from Danny and Pete’s point of view as they work to formally adopt Kevin and bring him home in time for Christmas. The story excels at highlighting the determination of loving fathers while still including realistic moments of hesitation, doubt, and fear that occur for new and soon-to-be parents. The language is mindful of its audience (for example using “piggy banks” instead of “bank accounts” to discuss finances) while never patronizing young readers. Espinosa’s posterlike artwork—which presents the cleanest New York readers are ever likely to see—extends the text and makes use of unexpected angles to heighten emotional scenes and moments of urgency. The diversity of skin tones, ages, and faces (Danny and Pete both present white, and Kevin has light brown skin) befits the Big Apple. Family snapshots and a closing author’s note emphasize that the most important thing in any family is love. (This book was reviewed digitally with 11.3-by-18-inch double-page spreads viewed at 43% of actual size.)

A delightful story of love and hope. (Informational picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-42754-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2020

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