HOUSE HELD UP BY TREES

Poet Kooser explores the tension between the human predilection for taming nature and the triumph of the wild.

A solitary house, its lawn bordered by thick woods, shelters a father, boy and girl. The children play in the woods while their father meticulously mows, plucking tree seedlings at every appearance. The children grow up and leave, and dad, yard work too much for him, follows. Unsold and unwanted, the house leaks and sags. Kooser describes the transformation: “Some of the seeds had sprouted along the foundation, where water ran off the roof… and these little trees were soon saplings, pressed against the side of the house.” Paradoxically, the rotting house, nails rusting and boards pulling away, is kept intact by the maturing trees. Kooser, his language plain yet rich, marvels quietly: "[A]s they grew bigger and stronger, they held it / together as if it was a bird’s nest in the fingers of their branches.” Klassen’s stylized pictures, in a muted palette of umber, brick red and green-gray, capture the isolation of both house and father. The lawn, that point of pride, isn’t lushly depicted. Rather, it’s a collection of fitful, pale strokes, suspended below a swirl of winged seeds. Double-page spreads show the shift from foundational support to that of the tight phalanx of trees. In the final spread, the house is seen from below, high in the trees’ sure embrace.

Poignant and lovely. (Picture book. 4-9)

Pub Date: March 27, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-7636-510-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Jan. 18, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2012

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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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Informative, empowering, and fun.

ROX'S SECRET CODE

Girl power abounds in this book about coding that introduces young readers to the world of programming while offering them hands-on activities via a companion app.

In this title that was first introduced as a customizable, personalized print-on-demand product, Rox has a superpower. Using code, she programs toy robots that can do things like make broccoli disappear—or mischief. When Dad tells Rox to clean her room, she quickly thinks up a bot that will do it for her, writing code that instructs her bot to use artificial intelligence to sort objects by color and type. Though Rox knows that there’s a high potential for her creation to rebel, the perks outweigh any potential adverse effects. Rox’s robot has her room neat and tidy in no time—and then the entire home. Chorebot’s AI allows it to keep learning, and it seems Chorebot can do no wrong until the robot decides to rearrange the entire city (both buildings and people) by type, style, and gender. Chorebot goes “out of his artificial mind!” Rox must now stop her creation…without the assistance of the internet. The artwork, styled in the tradition of popular superhero series, is peppy and colorful, and it depicts Rox as an adorable black girl donning a black bomber jacket and a pink tutu. A companion app (not available for review) allows readers to create a bot of their own.

Informative, empowering, and fun. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 6, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-57687-899-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: POW!

Review Posted Online: Sept. 2, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2018

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