This gentle book provides a good starting point for conversations about death and how people react to it.

THE ROLLER COASTER KID

Life can be like a roller coaster.

Grandpa loves roller coasters and was known as “The Rollercoaster Kid” as a boy, while Zach prefers to ride the Ferris wheel with Grandma, in part because coasters scare him. Zach knows he’ll get over it though; as Grandma says, “When the time is right, you’ll face your fear.” Relaxed, pencil-and-watercolor illustrations depict the beach town where the extended family summers and show Zach and his grandparents enjoying the amusement park and seaside. Unfortunately, by the next year, Grandma has died, and though the whole family misses her terribly, nobody mentions her for fear of making Grandpa even sadder. In an effort to help Grandpa feel better, Zach decides to face his fears and take Grandpa for a ride on the roller coaster, but when Grandpa doesn’t praise him as Grandma would have, it makes Zach blurt out how much he misses her. Is this a mistake? Presented with warmth, sensitivity and a light touch, this story demonstrates the human need for sharing and support after a death, whatever one’s age, and emphasizes the need for communication and comfort.

This gentle book provides a good starting point for conversations about death and how people react to it. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: July 5, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-670-01150-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 9, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2012

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Making friends isn’t always this easy and convenient.

BUDDY'S NEW BUDDY

From the Growing With Buddy series , Vol. 3

How do you make a new friend when an old one moves away?

Buddy (from Sorry, Grown-Ups, You Can’t Go to School, 2019, etc.) is feeling lonely. His best friend just moved across town. To make matters worse, there is a field trip coming up, and Buddy needs a bus partner. His sister, Lady, has some helpful advice for making a new pal: “You just need to find something you have in common.” Buddy loves the game Robo Chargers and karate. Surely there is someone else who does, too! Unfortunately, there isn’t. However, when a new student arrives (one day later) and asks everyone to call her Sunny instead of Alison, Buddy gets excited. No one uses his given name, either; they just call him Buddy. He secretly whispers his “real, official name” to Sunny at lunch—an indication that a true friendship is being formed. The rest of the story plods merrily along, all pieces falling exactly into place (she even likes Robo Chargers!), accompanied by Bowers’ digital art, a mix of spot art and full-bleed illustrations. Friendship-building can be an emotionally charged event in a child’s life—young readers will certainly see themselves in Buddy’s plight—but, alas, there is not much storytelling magic to be found. Buddy and his family are White, Sunny and Mr. Teacher are Black, and Buddy’s other classmates are racially diverse. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Making friends isn’t always this easy and convenient. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: July 12, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-30709-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: March 30, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2022

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A good bet for the youngest bird-watchers.

MAMA BUILT A LITTLE NEST

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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