These close encounters are better seen than read.

LIGHTS ON WONDER ROCK

An alien encounter keeps a woman hoping to recapture a magical moment all her life.

One night Heather sneaks off into the woods with a flashlight, sitting on Wonder Rock and “hoping that someone out there would see her light.” When something arrives, it comes in an explosion of bright colors, flashing lights, and glowing particles. From a flying saucer emerges a friendly creature who looks like a giant spoon. Heather draws a picture for it before she retreats to her family. For the rest of her life, Heather returns to Wonder Rock, hoping for a reunion but growing disenchanted. It’s not until she is “an old lady” who has “nearly lost all hope, as people do,” that the ship returns to, predictably, teach her that the family she has raised is the magic she was always seeking. Litchfield’s slightly mournful story is punctuated by moments of thrilling escape, none more lovely than a single page of Heather’s “off / and on” flashlight vigil, laid out as nine panels that go from giddy anticipation to disappointment to sudden fear, a technique deployed again when Heather is old. But the text does not rise to the level of enchanting artwork, falling flat with tired clichés and concluding with a thud. As with the crayon pictures that Heather uses to communicate with the ET, some ideas don’t need words. Heather presents White; her family is interracial.

These close encounters are better seen than read. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 8, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-358-35953-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Clarion Books

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2020

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A delicious triumph over fear of night creatures.

PIPPA'S NIGHT PARADE

Pippa conquers a fear of the creatures that emerge from her storybooks at night.

Pippa’s “wonderfully wild imagination” can sometimes run “a little TOO wild.” During the day, she wears her “armor” and is a force to be reckoned with. But in bed at night, Pippa worries about “villains and monsters and beasts.” Sharp-toothed and -taloned shadows, dragons, and pirates emerge from her storybooks like genies from a bottle, just to scare her. Pippa flees to her parents’ room only to be brought back time and again. Finally, Pippa decides that she “needs a plan” to “get rid of them once and for all.” She decides to slip a written invitation into every book, and that night, they all come out. She tries subduing them with a lasso, an eye patch, and a sombrero, but she is defeated. Next, she tries “sashes and sequins and bows,” throwing the fashion pieces on the monsters, who…“begin to pose and primp and preen.” After that success, their fashion show becomes a nightly ritual. Clever Pippa’s transformation from scared victim of her own imagination to leader of the monster pack feels fairly sudden, but it’s satisfying nonetheless. The cartoony illustrations effectively use dynamic strokes, shadow, and light to capture action on the page and the feeling of Pippa's fears taking over her real space. Pippa and her parents are brown-skinned with curls of various textures.

A delicious triumph over fear of night creatures. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5420-9300-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Two Lions

Review Posted Online: June 25, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more