SQUIRREL AND JOHN MUIR

Caldecott Medalist McCully again successfully creates a narrative that pairs a rambunctious girl character with a fascinating historical figure. This inventive tale brings the personage of naturalist John Muir to life. In 1868, James Hutchings began a tourist business in the beautiful Yosemite Valley in 1868, and his daughter Floy was the first white child born in the valley. At six, her wild behavior of tearing around the valley, balancing on the woodpile plank, and capturing frogs earned her the nickname Squirrel. When John Muir arrived at Hutchings’s hotel seeking both work and knowledge about the natural world, Floy became his shadow, entranced by the wonders of nature that he showed her. The ending has Muir moving on but sharing his special place in the mountains, with her. McCully’s familiar watercolors beautifully capture the scenery while the simple text conveys the bond between the unlikely pair. A two-page author’s note provides historical background (Floy died tragically). A lovely tribute to the gentle genius of the Sierras that gives dimension to the man and respect to his name. (bibliography) (Picture book/historical fiction. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 10, 2004

ISBN: 0-374-33697-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2004

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WATER

``Water is dew. Water is ice and snow.'' No matter what form it takes, seldom has plain old water appeared so colorful as in this rainbow-hued look at rain, dew, snowflakes, clouds, rivers, floods, and seas. Asch celebrates water's many forms with a succinct text and lush paintings done in mostly in softly muted watercolors of aqua, green, rose, blue, and yellow. They look as if they were created with a wet-on-wet technique that makes every hue lightly bleed into its neighbor. Water appears as ribbons of color, one sliding into the other, while objects that are not (in readers' minds) specifically water-like—trees, rocks, roots—are similarly colored. Perhaps the author intends to show water is everything and everything is water, but the concept is not fully realized for this age group. The whole is charming, but more successful as art than science. Though catalogued as nonfiction, this title will be better off in the picture book section. (Picture book/nonfiction. 5-7)

Pub Date: March 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-15-200189-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 1995

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A retro-futuristic romp, literally and figuratively screwy.

ROBOBABY

Robo-parents Diode and Lugnut present daughter Cathode with a new little brother—who requires, unfortunately, some assembly.

Arriving in pieces from some mechanistic version of Ikea, little Flange turns out to be a cute but complicated tyke who immediately falls apart…and then rockets uncontrollably about the room after an overconfident uncle tinkers with his basic design. As a squad of helpline techies and bevies of neighbors bearing sludge cake and like treats roll in, the cluttered and increasingly crowded scene deteriorates into madcap chaos—until at last Cath, with help from Roomba-like robodog Sprocket, stages an intervention by whisking the hapless new arrival off to a backyard workshop for a proper assembly and software update. “You’re such a good big sister!” warbles her frazzled mom. Wiesner’s robots display his characteristic clean lines and even hues but endearingly look like vaguely anthropomorphic piles of random jet-engine parts and old vacuum cleaners loosely connected by joints of armored cable. They roll hither and thither through neatly squared-off panels and pages in infectiously comical dismay. Even the end’s domestic tranquility lasts only until Cathode spots the little box buried in the bigger one’s packing material: “TWINS!” (This book was reviewed digitally with 9-by-22-inch double-page spreads viewed at 52% of actual size.)

A retro-futuristic romp, literally and figuratively screwy. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-544-98731-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Clarion Books

Review Posted Online: June 3, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2020

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