Naberhaus and Nelson give new life to Old Glory for the youngest of readers

BLUE SKY WHITE STARS

Sparsely worded and rich in symbols, this oversize picture book speaks boldly, both visually and textually.

From the beginning, Nelson’s artistically vibrant images make clear associations between the elements of the American flag and both what they symbolize and the diverse cast of individuals who have contributed, in the past and present, to the freedoms we all enjoy as Americans. Naberhaus’ paired homophones, when considered with the illustrations, echo historical truths. For instance, “Sew together / Won nation,” with a young Betsy Ross sewing the first flag, appears across the gutter from “So together / One nation,” with a crowd of Americans displaying different ethnic, racial, gender, and age markers looking directly at readers. At every point, Naberhaus and Nelson claim America’s multiculturalism and pluralism as assets. Although some might consider this book patriotically didactic, its reliance on symbols leaves much for readers to fill in with their own knowledge and experience. And while this text would probably have been well-received at any time in the past, many adult and child readers will warmly welcome the way it embraces the idea of “e pluribus unum” at this particular historical moment. Notes from the author and illustrator and additional notes on the author’s website about the book provide extra material for classroom discussions.

Naberhaus and Nelson give new life to Old Glory for the youngest of readers . (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: June 13, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-8037-3700-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2017

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Young readers will hunt out this enjoyable crowd pleaser again and again.

WE'RE GOING ON A GOON HUNT

Hunt for a bear? That’s so yesterday.

On a spooky Halloween night, we’re hunting for…a green GOON. We’re not really scared. Let’s start in a pumpkin patch. We can’t go over or under it, so we’ll just go through it. We’ll do the same in other likely goon hideouts: a swamp, a tunnel, a forest, a graveyard, and, finally, a haunted house. In this atmospheric “petrifying parody” of We’re Going on a Bear Hunt, a dad and his four kids, dressed in Halloween finery and accompanied by their costumed pup, search for the elusive quarry. They become more frightened (particularly dad and pooch, even from the outset) as they proceed along the increasingly murky path—except for the youngest, unicorn-outfitted child, who squeals a delighted welcome to whatever creature unexpectedly materializes. As in the classic original, evocative sound effects (“Gurgle hiss, gurgle hiss, gurgle hiss!”) ring out as the quintet moves through each hazard. Unsurprisingly, the group locates the goon, forcing them to retrace their steps home in a frenzied hurry, odd noises and all. They reach safety to discover…uh-oh! Meanwhile, someone’s missing but having a ball! Even readers who’ve never read or heard about the bear expedition will appreciate this clever, comical, fast-paced take. The colorful line illustrations are humorously brooding and sweetly endearing, with the family (all members present White) portrayed as growing steadily apprehensive. (This book was reviewed digitally with 8.5-by-20.8-inch double-page spreads viewed at 74.6% of actual size.)

Young readers will hunt out this enjoyable crowd pleaser again and again. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 18, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-984813-62-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2020

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A good choice to share with wriggly listeners, who will soon be joining in.

AT THE OLD HAUNTED HOUSE

A Halloween book that rides on the rhythms of “Over in the Meadow.”

Although Halloween rhyming counting books abound, this stands out, with a text that begs to be read aloud and cartoony digital illustrations that add goofy appeal. A girl and two boys set off on Halloween night to go trick-or-treating. As the children leave the cozy, warm glow of their street, readers see a haunted house on a hill, with gravestones dotting the front yard. Climbing the twisty path to the dark estate takes time, so the story turns to the antics inside the house. “At the old haunted house in a room with no sun / lived a warty green witch and her wee witch one. ‘SPELL!’ cried the witch. ‘POOF!’ cried the one. / And they both practiced spells in the room with no sun.” The actions of the scary creatures within may seem odd, but the rhyme must go on: Cats scratch, goblins dust, monsters stir, and mummies mix. Eventually the three kids reach the front door and are invited in for stew, cake and brew. At first shocked by the gruesome fare, the children recover quickly and get caught up in partying with the slightly spooky but friendly menagerie.

A good choice to share with wriggly listeners, who will soon be joining in. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Aug. 12, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4778-4769-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Two Lions

Review Posted Online: July 16, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2014

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