This gently magical outing will appeal not only to longtime lovers of European folklore, but also to fans of the popular...

BACKYARD FAIRIES

In this gentle picture book, a sturdy, redheaded, rosy-cheeked girl searches for fairies in her backyard—and invites readers to come along.

Have you ever found, while out on your own… // A tiny, magical somebody’s home? // Or sensed a fluttering, flickering flight… / gone when you turn, just out of sight?” the protagonist asks. On each spread, the girl and readers search for fairies and other magical creatures; the girl “sees” the magic but keeps missing the little magicians, which will greatly amuse young readers, who will delight in spotting them. “You might leave an offering, / then you discover, / it’s vanished by morning, / replaced with another.” Here the girl misses at least three fairies as she gazes at a nest in the middle of a fairy ring. When the girl wonders whether the fairies are out there at all, the fairies finally reply—by placing a floral fairy crown on her head. Wahl’s old-time–y, vignette-style illustrations, done in watercolor, colored pencil, and collage, depicting vibrant woodlands evoke classic, Western fairy-tale tropes, and the playful, hand-drawn text reinforces the lightness and sprightliness of the subject matter. Though quite different in subject, Wahl’s sophomore effort is just as delightful as her 2015 debut, Sonya’s Chickens. Human-shaped fairies display a range of skin tones.

This gently magical outing will appeal not only to longtime lovers of European folklore, but also to fans of the popular “fairy door” phenomenon. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: March 6, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5247-1527-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Nov. 22, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2017

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A charming blend of whimsy and medieval heroism highlighting the triumph of brains over brawn.

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KNIGHT OWL

A young owl achieves his grand ambition.

Owl, an adorably earnest and gallant little owlet, dreams of being a knight. He imagines himself defeating dragons and winning favor far and wide through his brave exploits. When a record number of knights go missing, Owl applies to Knight School and is surprisingly accepted. He is much smaller than the other knights-in-training, struggles to wield weapons, and has “a habit of nodding off during the day.” Nevertheless, he graduates and is assigned to the Knight Night Watch. While patrolling the castle walls one night, a hungry dragon shows up and Owl must use his wits to avoid meeting a terrible end. The result is both humorous and heartwarming, offering an affirmation of courage and clear thinking no matter one’s size…and demonstrating the power of a midnight snack. The story never directly addresses the question of the missing knights, but it is hinted that they became the dragon’s fodder, leaving readers to question Owl’s decision to befriend the beast. Humor is supplied by the characters’ facial expressions and accented by the fact that Owl is the only animal in his order of big, burly human knights. Denise’s accomplished digital illustrations—many of which are full bleeds—often use a warm sepia palette that evokes a feeling of antiquity, and some spreads feature a pleasing play of chiaroscuro that creates suspense and drama.

A charming blend of whimsy and medieval heroism highlighting the triumph of brains over brawn. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: March 15, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-316-31062-8

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Christy Ottaviano Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 16, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 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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