WHAT A FAMILY!

A FRESH LOOK AT FAMILY TREES

Poorly designed for library use but likely to keep detail-oriented children engrossed, this introduction to genetics and genealogy identifies physical characteristics shared among a multicultural gaggle of nearly three dozen cousins. It starts out simply, with little Ollie learning from his Grandpa Max that he looks just like Max’s brother Winthrop at the same age, back in 1924. But in no time, each turn of the page brings something like: “Lili and George’s twin second cousins once removed, Kyla and Katie, have red hair, while their half-sisters, Talisha and Zinzi, have black hair like their father, Henry.” Unfortunately, Isadora leaves all of the terms except “removed” undefined, and has laid out the family tree, from which readers can make sense of these relationships only on the endpapers—much of which will be covered if the flaps are glued down. Rendered in crayon and colored pencil, the accompanying rows and rows of smiling faces, mostly those of children, not only create a bright, happy mood, but are drawn with care, so that the similarities of hair, eyes, noses, body type and other inherited features are easy to spot. But young readers with an interest in the subject are likely to get more from Loreen Leedy’s Who’s Who in My Family? (1995). (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: March 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-399-24254-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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KEVIN AND HIS DAD

There is something profoundly elemental going on in Smalls’s book: the capturing of a moment of unmediated joy. It’s not melodramatic, but just a Saturday in which an African-American father and son immerse themselves in each other’s company when the woman of the house is away. Putting first things first, they tidy up the house, with an unheralded sense of purpose motivating their actions: “Then we clean, clean, clean the windows,/wipe, wipe, wash them right./My dad shines in the windows’ light.” When their work is done, they head for the park for some batting practice, then to the movies where the boy gets to choose between films. After a snack, they work their way homeward, racing each other, doing a dance step or two, then “Dad takes my hand and slows down./I understand, and we slow down./It’s a long, long walk./We have a quiet talk and smile.” Smalls treats the material without pretense, leaving it guileless and thus accessible to readers. Hays’s artwork is wistful and idyllic, just as this day is for one small boy. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: April 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-316-79899-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 1999

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Produced to celebrate the National Park Service’s upcoming centenary, a breezy invitation to prospective travelers to “get...

OUR GREAT BIG BACKYARD

A family road trip through several national parks transforms young Jane’s feelings about missing out on a summer of online fun with her friends.

“There’s absolutely nothing to see here,” Jane emails fretfully as her family drives through the scenic Smoky Mountains and canoes past alligators and manatees in the Everglades. But once her dad gets her to put the tablet away and look through a telescope at the night skies over Big Bend National Park, her attitude transforms: “OH WOW!” Soon she’s tiptoeing over the Grand Canyon’s Skywalk like an acrobat, playing pirate on a raft down the Colorado River, scouting out “Mountain lions, buffalo, and bears. Oh my!” in Yellowstone—and, discovering that she’s misplaced her electronic device, sending written postcards to her friends from Yosemite. Furthermore, once back home, what better way to debrief than a backyard cookout under the stars? Giving blonde Jane and the rest of her white family broad, pleasant features, Rogers sends them smiling and singing their way through a succession of natural wonders, with bears and bald eagles, footnotes (adult supervision required on the Skywalk, for instance), and only a few fellow, occasionally diverse tourists in the background. Endpaper maps track the long itinerary, and a (select) list of other national parks and sites in each state offers more destinations.

Produced to celebrate the National Park Service’s upcoming centenary, a breezy invitation to prospective travelers to “get out there!” (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: May 10, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-06-246835-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 4, 2016

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