Quiet, gentle, satisfying tale of father-son bonding.


A boy and his father embark on a special mission.

When Samuel’s mother wishes for “a brown-eyed cow to give us milk for the baby,” Papa takes his best knife and invites Samuel to join him on a search for a cow. Leaving their farm early on a white January morning, Papa reminds Samuel to “keep up” because “it’s a long road and a short day,” a refrain he repeats throughout their journey. At neighbor Snow’s house, Papa trades his knife for two tin lanterns. At the Perrys’ house, he trades the lanterns for a book of poetry. He trades the book for a pitcher at Widow Mitchell’s, and the pitcher for a sheep when they encounter Dr. Fulton. This pattern continues as Papa trades the sheep for a gold pocket watch and the watch for a pony and cart that Samuel would dearly love to keep. Daylight is fading, snow is collecting, Samuel’s cold, and he has kept up with Papa, but will Papa trade the pony and cart for a cow? As the snow intensifies and the serial trading progresses, the momentum and suspense build gradually until father and son reach journey’s end, where Samuel receives a well-deserved reward. Full-page, realistic color illustrations introduce each chapter, tracing their journey from beginning to end in a snowy, rural, largely unmechanized environment evoking a simpler time and place.

Quiet, gentle, satisfying tale of father-son bonding. (Fiction. 8-10)

Pub Date: Nov. 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-544-88836-4

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Clarion Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2020

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Move over Ramona Quimby, Portland has another neighbor you have to meet!


From the Ryan Hart series , Vol. 1

Ryan Hart is navigating the fourth grade and all its challenges with determination.

Her mom named her Ryan because it means “king,” and she wanted Ryan to feel powerful every time she heard her name; Ryan knows it means she is a leader. So when changes occur or disaster strikes, budding chef Ryan does her best to find the positive and “make sunshine.” When her dad is laid off from the post office, the family must make adjustments that include moving into a smaller house, selling their car, and changing how they shop for groceries. But Ryan gets to stay at Vernon Elementary, and her mom still finds a way to get her the ingredients she needs to practice new recipes. Her older brother, Ray, can be bossy, but he finds little ways to support her, especially when she is down—as does the whole family. Each episodic chapter confronts Ryan with a situation; intermittently funny, frustrating, and touching, they should be familiar and accessible to readers, as when Ryan fumbles her Easter speech despite careful practice. Ryan, her family, and friends are Black, and Watson continues to bring visibility to both Portland, Oregon, generally and its Black community specifically, making another wonderful contribution that allows Black readers to see themselves and all readers to find a character they can love.

Move over Ramona Quimby, Portland has another neighbor you have to meet! (Fiction. 8-10)

Pub Date: April 28, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5476-0056-4

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: Jan. 21, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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Ironically, by choosing such a dramatic catalyst, the author weakens the adventure’s impact overall and leaves readers to...


A group of talking farm animals catches wind of the farm owner’s intention to burn the barn (with them in it) for insurance money and hatches a plan to flee.

Bond begins briskly—within the first 10 pages, barn cat Burdock has overheard Dewey Baxter’s nefarious plan, and by Page 17, all of the farm animals have been introduced and Burdock is sharing the terrifying news. Grady, Dewey’s (ever-so-slightly) more principled brother, refuses to go along, but instead of standing his ground, he simply disappears. This leaves the animals to fend for themselves. They do so by relying on their individual strengths and one another. Their talents and personalities match their species, bringing an element of realism to balance the fantasy elements. However, nothing can truly compensate for the bland horror of the premise. Not the growing sense of family among the animals, the serendipitous intervention of an unknown inhabitant of the barn, nor the convenient discovery of an alternate home. Meanwhile, Bond’s black-and-white drawings, justly compared to those of Garth Williams, amplify the sense of dissonance. Charming vignettes and single- and double-page illustrations create a pastoral world into which the threat of large-scale violence comes as a shock.

Ironically, by choosing such a dramatic catalyst, the author weakens the adventure’s impact overall and leaves readers to ponder the awkward coincidences that propel the plot. (Animal fantasy. 8-10)

Pub Date: July 7, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-544-33217-1

Page Count: 256

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: April 1, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2015

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