Far too hard a sell for the intended audience.

THE GREAT BIG GREEN BOOK

Busy, colorful cartoons accompany text meant to encourage environmental activism in children.

The title page shows a Quentin Blake–ish, orange-and-black–striped cat in the upper corner. The cat’s speech bubble reads, “Can you find ME every time you turn a page?” The device may help retain the attention of those who begin to flag from too much information—or help more anxious children tune out the most devastating facts. Each double-page spread has a title that organizes a nonlinear movement of topics that range among praising the Earth, proclaiming its demise and saving it. The cartoons sometimes grate inappropriately against the British, prosaic, didactic text, as when sad dogs with bursting bladders and pastel dinosaurs “queue” near the words, “If we lose too many trees…humans could end up extinct—like the dinosaurs!” Then there’s the cartoon about species endangerment: “How will Santa get to all the homes without reindeer?” The art shows much cultural and ability diversity, including an uncomfortable moment between a child in a wheelchair and a “green” family asking, “Do we really need LIFTS?” In addition to providing expected conservation prompts, the text encourages children to ask questions and to be inventive. Besides imploring kids to fight climate change, the text admits at one point, “It’s hard because usually the grown-ups make these decisions….”

Far too hard a sell for the intended audience. (glossary, websites) (Informational picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: March 15, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-84780-445-7

Page Count: 36

Publisher: Frances Lincoln

Review Posted Online: Jan. 20, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2015

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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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An adorable adventure in cartography.

CAMILLA, CARTOGRAPHER

An exercise of spatial thinking through a snowy forest.

Camilla the warthog collects maps. Maps of stars, New York, even the London Tube. She even owns an ancient map of her forest. Unfortunately for her, she believes all lands have been explored and there is nothing new to chart. However, with a snowy morning comes a new opportunity. When her hedgehog neighbor, Parsley, asks for her help in finding the creek, Camilla quivers with excitement when she realizes the snow-covered land “is uncharted territory.” With all landmarks covered in snow, Camilla and Parsley must use their spatial-reasoning skills and a compass to find a new way to the creek. Their trailblazing journey proves a challenge as they keep bumping into trees, rocks, and walls. But when they find the creek, Camilla will have all the information and tools ready to draw out a new map, to break out in case of another snowfall. Wood’s delightful illustrations and Dillemuth’s expertise in the matter engage readers in the woodland creatures’ adventures. In addition, Dillemuth, who holds a doctorate in geography, provides activities in the backmatter for parents and caregivers to help children develop their own spatial-reasoning skills, such as sketching and reading maps or using cardinal directions.

An adorable adventure in cartography. (author’s note) (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4338-3033-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Magination/American Psychological Association

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

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