FARM BABIES

First comes a new-born calf, and then, more briefly, ten other "babies"—about which we learn some things that are different, and some things that are the same. But Freedman (The First Days of Life, Animal Fathers, Getting Born, etc.), practiced in presenting this subject matter to the young, makes no overt attempt to instruct—and that, along with the simple fluency of the text and the simple clarity of the pictures, reinforces the book's natural appeal. (The text almost never refers to the animals as "babies"—save to say "baby goats" as an alternative to "kids," or "baby pigs" as an alternative to "piglets.") Instead, the brief remarks accompanying each picture take as reference points the picture itself ("These piglets"are about a week old. They are beginning to leave their pen and explore the barnyard"); a child's instinctual repsonse or natural queries ("If you touch a small piglet, it feels like velvet. . . . When it is about ten days old, it begins to grow soft bristles"); or the animal's distinguishing traits ("Baby pigs make lively pets. . . . In fact, pigs are probably the smartest animals on the farm"). Virtually all the information, in sum, is of immediate interest and some consequence—for a listening five-year-old or a second- or third-grader. A routine undertaking, discerningly executed.

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 1982

ISBN: 0823404269

Page Count: 38

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: Oct. 26, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 1982

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A lovely encouragement to young writers to persist.

HOW TO WRITE A STORY

This follow-up to How To Read a Story (2005) shows a child going through the steps of creating a story, from choosing an idea through sharing with friends.

A young black child lies in a grassy field writing in a journal, working on “Step 1 / Search for an Idea— / a shiny one.” During a walk to the library, various ideas float in colorful thought bubbles, with exclamation points: “playing soccer! / dogs!” Inside the library, less-distinct ideas, expressed as shapes and pictures, with question marks, float about as the writer collects ideas to choose from. The young writer must then choose a setting, a main character, and a problem for that protagonist. Plotting, writing with detail, and revising are described in child-friendly terms and shown visually, in the form of lists and notes on faux pieces of paper. Finally, the writer sits in the same field, in a new season, sharing the story with friends. The illustrations feature the child’s writing and drawing as well as images of imagined events from the book in progress bursting off the page. The child’s main character is an adventurous mermaid who looks just like the child, complete with afro-puff pigtails, representing an affirming message about writing oneself into the world. The child’s family, depicted as black, moves in the background of the setting, which is also populated by a multiracial cast.

A lovely encouragement to young writers to persist. (Informational picture book. 6-10)

Pub Date: July 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4521-5666-8

Page Count: 36

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2020

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Energetic enough to carry younger rocketeers off the launch pad if not into a very high orbit.

PROFESSOR ASTRO CAT'S SPACE ROCKETS

From the Professor Astro Cat series

The bubble-helmeted feline explains what rockets do and the role they have played in sending people (and animals) into space.

Addressing a somewhat younger audience than in previous outings (Professor Astro Cat’s Frontiers of Space, 2013, etc.), Astro Cat dispenses with all but a light shower of “factoroids” to describe how rockets work. A highly selective “History of Space Travel” follows—beginning with a crew of fruit flies sent aloft in 1947, later the dog Laika (her dismal fate left unmentioned), and the human Yuri Gagarin. Then it’s on to Apollo 11 in 1969; the space shuttles Discovery, Columbia, and Challenger (the fates of the latter two likewise elided); the promise of NASA’s next-gen Orion and the Space Launch System; and finally vague closing references to other rockets in the works for local tourism and, eventually, interstellar travel. In the illustrations the spacesuited professor, joined by a mouse and cat in similar dress, do little except float in space and point at things. Still, the art has a stylish retro look, and portraits of Sally Ride and Guion Bluford diversify an otherwise all-white, all-male astronaut corps posing heroically or riding blocky, geometric spacecraft across starry reaches.

Energetic enough to carry younger rocketeers off the launch pad if not into a very high orbit. (glossary) (Informational picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 4, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-911171-55-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Flying Eye Books

Review Posted Online: July 16, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2018

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