APPLES TO OREGON

The subtitle (“Being the [Slightly] True Narrative of How a Brave Pioneer Father Brought Apples, Peaches, Pears, Plums, Grapes, and Cherries [and Children] Across the Plains”) sets the tone and describes the plot, but the flavor is in the folksy telling of this clever tall tale that humorously portrays a family’s trek west from Iowa to Oregon to plant their father’s fruit trees. His oldest daughter, Delicious, regales readers with her accounts of the many hazards and risks the family faces (eight children and mama) as they rescue Daddy’s darlings, the young trees, from drowning in a river crossing, being pounded by hailstones, withering by drought, and then freezing by Jack Frost. Carpenter’s illustrations paint hilarious touches, such as the scene where they use their clothing to protect the plants from hail, including Daddy’s underwear. Endpaper maps trace their journey and the author’s note states that the story is loosely based on a real pioneer, Henderson Luelling. The pun-filled text and puckish pictures by the team that created Fannie in the Kitchen (2001) spin a pip of a yarn that is just downright delicious. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2004

ISBN: 0-689-84769-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Anne Schwartz/Atheneum

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2004

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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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UNDER THE SNOW

A snow-covered countryside may look barren of life, but Stewart’s quiet text takes readers under the blanket of white to “a hidden world” where ladybugs sleep en masse and voles tunnel from tree to tree, where a wood frog freezes safely solid and bluegills and waterboatmen share frigid waters, where a turtle lies buried in mud and “even on the coldest winter days, red-spotted newts dodge and dart, whiz and whirl just below the ice.” Bergum’s equally quiet watercolors spread across the pages in panels that offer cross-sections and magnified details to give readers glimpses of the world beneath the snow. Their precision lends a dignity and beauty even to a sleeping centipede and a barbeled carp. Readers will come away with an appreciation for the adaptability and endurance of the animal world. (Informational picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2009

ISBN: 978-1-56145-493-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Peachtree

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2009

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