Though joyful, this celebration of the American family is regrettably nostalgic.


Poet Laureate of West Virginia Harshman’s anthem to extended families is a mellow catalog of togetherness.

As the whole family converges on the old homestead in the country, a whirlwind of activity ensues: Great-Grandpa tells stories around the campfire, children frolic at the swimming hole, and everyone piles into the rowboat. The one-word imperatives that conclude each disappointingly nonlyrical, four-line stanza can be stealthily employed to encourage audience participation—count; sing; clap. "When it is time for breakfast / and the grown-ups are ready, / Aunt Jayne says / WASH." The quietly subdued narration is offset by Palacios’ dynamic pen-and-ink–and-digital illustrations. Palacios’ attention to detail draws readers’ eyes to everyone from the cherubic baby to the shaggy dog. Frogs are popeyed, and birds are comically interested in the organized chaos of the daily outings. There’s a shimmering quality to these late-summer images, from the russet-haired kids in sleeping bags on the floor to the panicked scramble through meadow grass from angry bees. However, the too-familiar European-American, middle-class family featured in the story lacks diversity of any kind. A single parent, a disabled child, or a multiracial or same-sex couple would have added authenticity to the portrayal of today’s American family and would have positively contributed to the national discourse on inclusiveness.

Though joyful, this celebration of the American family is regrettably nostalgic. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 8, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-8028-5388-2

Page Count: 34

Publisher: Eerdmans

Review Posted Online: Dec. 8, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2015

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A good bet for the youngest bird-watchers.


Echoing the meter of “Mary Had a Little Lamb,” Ward uses catchy original rhymes to describe the variety of nests birds create.

Each sweet stanza is complemented by a factual, engaging description of the nesting habits of each bird. Some of the notes are intriguing, such as the fact that the hummingbird uses flexible spider web to construct its cup-shaped nest so the nest will stretch as the chicks grow. An especially endearing nesting behavior is that of the emperor penguin, who, with unbelievable patience, incubates the egg between his tummy and his feet for up to 60 days. The author clearly feels a mission to impart her extensive knowledge of birds and bird behavior to the very young, and she’s found an appealing and attractive way to accomplish this. The simple rhymes on the left page of each spread, written from the young bird’s perspective, will appeal to younger children, and the notes on the right-hand page of each spread provide more complex factual information that will help parents answer further questions and satisfy the curiosity of older children. Jenkins’ accomplished collage illustrations of common bird species—woodpecker, hummingbird, cowbird, emperor penguin, eagle, owl, wren—as well as exotics, such as flamingoes and hornbills, are characteristically naturalistic and accurate in detail.

A good bet for the youngest bird-watchers.   (author’s note, further resources) (Informational picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 18, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4424-2116-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Beach Lane/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Jan. 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2014

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A multilayered, endearing treasure of a day.


Spending a day with Gong Gong doesn’t sound like very much fun to May.

Gong Gong doesn’t speak English, and May doesn’t know Chinese. How can they have a good day together? As they stroll through an urban Chinatown, May’s perpetually sanguine maternal grandfather chats with friends and visits shops. At each stop, Cantonese words fly back and forth, many clearly pointed at May, who understands none of it. It’s equally exasperating trying to communicate with Gong Gong in English, and by the time they join a card game in the park with Gong Gong’s friends, May is tired, hungry, and frustrated. But although it seems like Gong Gong hasn’t been attentive so far, when May’s day finally comes to a head, it is clear that he has. First-person text gives glimpses into May’s lively thoughts as they evolve through the day, and Gong Gong’s unchangingly jolly face reflects what could be mistaken for blithe obliviousness but is actually his way of showing love through sharing the people and places of his life. Through adorable illustrations that exude humor and warmth, this portrait of intergenerational affection is also a tribute to life in Chinatown neighborhoods: Street vendors, a busker playing a Chinese violin, a dim sum restaurant, and more all combine to add a distinctive texture. 

A multilayered, endearing treasure of a day. (glossary) (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 8, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-77321-429-0

Page Count: 36

Publisher: Annick Press

Review Posted Online: June 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2020

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