Wilam, home, takes many forms for a plethora of animals in this striking Aboriginal story.

BIRRARUNG WILAM

A STORY FROM ABORIGINAL AUSTRALIA

A gentle, descriptive portrait of a lush and well-loved land.

Created by Joy Murphy Wandin Ao, Senior Aboriginal Elder of the Wurundjeri people of the Melbourne area, in collaboration with Kelly and Kennedy, also of the area, this #ownvoices picture book is one of a kind. Beginning with carefully painted endpapers that feature patterned stones and platypuses at the front and fish in waves at the back, the story follows the Birrarung (Yarra River) as it weaves its way from creeks to rivers, verdant bush undergrowth to valley pines beneath a pale blue sky, farmland to city. Animals identified with their Woiwurrung names are described in their various habitats: warin (wombat), marram (gray kangaroo), wallert (possum), waa (raven), and many others. Each layered spread features life of all forms—human, flora, and fauna—portrayed in a dynamic, vivid style. Intricate dot- and line-based art punctuates the lush illustrations drenched in vibrant greens, earthy browns, and watery blues, immersing readers in Aboriginal art. Extensive backmatter features a spread-by-spread glossary of Woiwurrung words used in the book accompanied by a reminder that “The Woiwurrung language does not translate directly into English.” This text perfectly captures the intersection of culture and science, making this an excellent text for an elementary-level unit on animal habitats, artistic portrayals, and cultural depictions of ecology.

Wilam, home, takes many forms for a plethora of animals in this striking Aboriginal story. (glossary) (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5362-0942-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: May 18, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2020

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This charming star shines bright.

THE SUN IS KIND OF A BIG DEAL

A humorous introduction to our sun and the solar system.

Webcomic creator Seluk aquaints readers with the sun (sporting a sly grin and a cool pair of shades) and its position as both the literal and metaphorical star of the solar system. Readers are introduced to the planets’ general relationships to the sun before diving deeper into the Earth’s unique reliance on the sun: “It does a ton of important jobs for Earth. In fact, we wouldn’t be around without the Sun!” The book explores everything from the effects of Earth’s rotation on our planet’s temperatures, daylight, and seasons to the water cycle and photosynthesis with clear and friendly prose. The planets’ characterizations are silly and irreverent: Venus wears a visor, Saturn is a hula-hoop champ, and Jupiter desperately wants an autograph but pretends it’s for one of its moons. Speech-bubble asides and simple but expressive faces and arm postures add to the celestial bodies’ personalities. Bright colors, contrasting backgrounds, and bold lines are engaging but never overwhelming. Vocabulary words set in boldface are tied to a glossary in the back. Backmatter also includes a gossip-magazine–style spread (“Planets: They’re Just Like Us!”) and a “Did You Know” section that highlights ancient civilizations’ beliefs about the sun.

This charming star shines bright. (Informational picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 25, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-338-16697-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Orchard/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: June 25, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2018

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This heartwarming story of a boy and his beloved dog opens the door for further study of our 16th president.

HONEY, THE DOG WHO SAVED ABE LINCOLN

A slice of Abraham Lincoln’s childhood life is explored through a fictionalized anecdote about his dog Honey.

When 7-year-old Abe rescues a golden-brown dog with a broken leg, he takes the pup home to the Lincolns’ cabin in Knob Creek, Kentucky. Honey follows Abe everywhere, including trailing after his owner into a deep cave. When Abe gets stuck between rocks, Honey goes for help and leads a search party back to the trapped boy for a dramatic rescue. The source for this story was a book incorporating the memories of Abe’s boyhood friend, explained in an author’s note. The well-paced text includes invented dialogue attributed to Abe and his parents. Abe’s older sister, Sarah, is not mentioned in the text and is shown in the illustrations as a little girl younger than Abe. All the characters present white save for one black man in the rescue crew. An oversized format and multiple double-page spreads provide plenty of space for cartoon-style illustrations of the Lincoln cabin, the surrounding countryside, and the spooky cave where Abe was trapped. This story focuses on the incident in the cave and Abe’s rescue; a more complete look at Lincoln’s life is included in an appended timeline and the author’s note, both of which include references to Lincoln’s kindness to animals and to other pets he owned.

This heartwarming story of a boy and his beloved dog opens the door for further study of our 16th president. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 14, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-269900-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Katherine Tegen/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Sept. 29, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2019

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