Calming, serene, respectful.

THE OLD WOMAN

An old woman transits through an autumn day, evening, and overnight to dawn, unhurriedly observing nature’s cues.

She and her dog live in a simply furnished old house. Most days, the dog chases squirrels, then dozes indoors on an old rug. On a walk in the hills, they observe a crow, and the woman marvels at what it would be like to fly. The woman throws sticks for the dog to fetch and finds a stout walking stick for herself. They rest at a familiar boulder “with its perfect seat.” Whirling fall leaves trigger a memory of playing outside for hours. Kazemi draws the woman in her younger form, hair now dark against her pale skin, dancing among the leaves. The artist’s lovely illustrations blend chalky graphite-gray with pastel and rusty autumnal accents. The full harvest moon rises, and the woman thinks of words to describe it: “huge, looming, warm, gentle, enormous, dreamy, peaceful, autumnal—magnificent.” Next morning, stiff and achy from the long walk, she goes outside to watch the sun rise. “There was a chill in the air. Soon it would be cold. It always comes like this, thought the old woman, and yet no one day is the same as another.” This beautifully contemplative portrait is notable for its depiction of a capable elder, dwelling not amid illness, regret, or grief, but in the moment, relishing each day’s unique beauty. (This book was reviewed digitally with 11-by-16.2-inch double-page spreads viewed at 91.5% of actual size.)

Calming, serene, respectful. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 29, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-77306-211-2

Page Count: 36

Publisher: Groundwood

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2020

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A sweet, tender and charming experience to read aloud or together.

HEY, DUCK!

A clueless duckling tries to make a new friend.

He is confused by this peculiar-looking duck, who has a long tail, doesn’t waddle and likes to be alone. No matter how explicitly the creature denies he is a duck and announces that he is a cat, the duckling refuses to acknowledge the facts.  When this creature expresses complete lack of interest in playing puddle stomp, the little ducking goes off and plays on his own. But the cat is not without remorse for rejecting an offered friendship. Of course it all ends happily, with the two new friends enjoying each other’s company. Bramsen employs brief sentences and the simplest of rhymes to tell this slight tale. The two heroes are meticulously drawn with endearing, expressive faces and body language, and their feathers and fur appear textured and touchable. Even the detailed tree bark and grass seem three-dimensional. There are single- and double-page spreads, panels surrounded by white space and circular and oval frames, all in a variety of eye-pleasing juxtapositions. While the initial appeal is solidly visual, young readers will get the gentle message that friendship is not something to take for granted but is to be embraced with open arms—or paws and webbed feet.

A sweet, tender and charming experience to read aloud or together. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Jan. 22, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-375-86990-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Nov. 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2012

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A TREE IS NICE

A nursery school approach to a general concept. "A tree is nice"- Why? Because..."We can climb the tree...play pirate ship...pick the apples...build playhouses out of the leaves. A tree is nice to hang a swing in...Birds build nests in trees... Sticks come off trees...People have picnics there too"...etc. etc. One follows the give and take of a shared succession of reactions to what a tree- or trees- can mean. There is a kind of poetic simplicity that is innate in small children. Marc Simont has made the pictures, half in full color, and they too have a childlike directness (with an underlying sophistication that adults will recognize). Not a book for everyone -but those who like it will like it immensely. The format (6 x 11) makes it a difficult book for shelving, so put it in the "clean hands" section of flat books. Here's your first book for Arbor Day use- a good spring and summer item.

Pub Date: June 15, 1956

ISBN: 978-0-06-443147-7

Page Count: 36

Publisher: Harper

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1956

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