Beautifully effective as both nostalgia trip and lesson in conservation.

ONE LITTLE BAG

AN AMAZING JOURNEY

This wordless picture book traces one brown paper bag’s journey: from timber and manufacturing through the hands of a small, white boy and his single father to those of the next generation.

The skilled black-ink drawings lend a look of pleasant harmony to all the characters that populate the pages, from woodland creatures to humans of various ages and gender and racial presentations. Meticulous attention to composition, textures, and period detail—starting around the 1960s—makes each page a delight. The common feature of each scene is a brown paper bag, which the protagonist’s father decorates with a red heart on his son’s first day of school—the book’s only pops of color. After its first use for the boy’s lunch, the bag becomes a never-ending vessel-of-all-trades. As the boy grows up, the bag serves as, among other things, a de facto lampshade over a flashlight to quell nightmares; a bag for automotive tools; receptacle for an engagement ring when the protagonist, now a young man, proposes to his girlfriend, a black woman; a petal container for the wedding’s flower girl; and a collection bag when the protagonist’s child gathers seashells with grandpa. Because there are no words, children are left to draw their own conclusions from an eventual drawing of the grandfather’s empty chair. (Is he wintering in some warm place? The planting of a pine seedling, its roots protected by that paper bag, offers an alternative interpretation.) The subtitle will disappoint those who equate “amazing” with narratives outside a common, middle-class, heteronormative life. However, the bag’s durability is amazing—and, according to the author’s fascinating note, not impossible.

Beautifully effective as both nostalgia trip and lesson in conservation. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: April 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-338-35997-8

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Dec. 18, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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A good choice for a late fall storytime.

SNACK, SNOOZE, SKEDADDLE

HOW ANIMALS GET READY FOR WINTER

Animal behaviors change as they prepare to face the winter.

Migrate, hibernate, or tolerate. With smooth rhymes and jaunty illustrations, Salas and Gévry introduce three strategies animals use for coping with winter cold. The author’s long experience in imparting information to young readers is evident in her selection of familiar animals and in her presentation. Spread by spread she introduces her examples, preparing in fall and surviving in winter. She describes two types of migration: Hummingbirds and monarchs fly, and blue whales travel to the warmth of the south; earthworms burrow deeper into the earth. Without using technical words, she introduces four forms of hibernation—chipmunks nap and snack; bears mainly sleep; Northern wood frogs become an “icy pop,” frozen until spring; and normally solitary garter snakes snuggle together in huge masses. Those who can tolerate the winter still change behavior. Mice store food and travel in tunnels under the snow; moose grow a warmer kind of fur; the red fox dives into the snow to catch small mammals (like those mice); and humans put on warm clothes and play. The animals in the soft pastel illustrations are recognizable, more cuddly than realistic, and quite appealing; their habitats are stylized. The humans represent varied ethnicities. Each page includes two levels of text, and there’s further information in the extensive backmatter. Pair with Joyce Sidman and Rick Allen’s Winter Bees (2014).

A good choice for a late fall storytime. (glossary) (Informational picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5415-2900-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Millbrook/Lerner

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2019

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Bruce Goldstone’s Awesome Autumn (2012) is still the gold standard.

HELLO AUTUMN!

Rotner follows Hello Spring (2017) with this salute to the fall season.

Name a change seen in northern climes in fall, and Rotner likely covers it here, from plants, trees, and animals to the food we harvest: seeds are spread, the days grow shorter and cooler, the leaves change and fall (and are raked up and jumped in), some animals migrate, and many families celebrate Halloween and Thanksgiving. As in the previous book, the photographs (presented in a variety of sizes and layouts, all clean) are the stars here, displaying both the myriad changes of the season and a multicultural array of children enjoying the outdoors in fall. These are set against white backgrounds that make the reddish-orange print pop. The text itself uses short sentences and some solid vocabulary (though “deep sleep” is used instead of “hibernate”) to teach readers the markers of autumn, though in the quest for simplicity, Rotner sacrifices some truth. In several cases, the addition of just a few words would have made the following oversimplified statements reflect reality: “Birds grow more feathers”; “Cranberries float and turn red.” Also, Rotner includes the statement “Bees store extra honey in their hives” on a page about animals going into deep sleep, implying that honeybees hibernate, which is false.

Bruce Goldstone’s Awesome Autumn (2012) is still the gold standard. (Informational picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-8234-3869-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: June 27, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2017

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