A gentle reminder that runners-up are important, too.

OLIVER

THE SECOND-LARGEST LIVING THING ON EARTH

Oliver, a giant sequoia tree, works hard but unsuccessfully to become the largest living thing on Earth, until he realizes that he is part of something even larger.

Crute and Kim, debut creators, find a standout way to impart an important life lesson about winning and losing. Using as a springboard the facts that a giant sequoia named Gen. Sherman is identified by Sequoia National Park as the largest living tree in the world, by volume, and there are other tall and named trees in Sequoia National Forest, they offer a gentle fantasy in which the second-largest tree, whom they call Oliver, eats well and lifts weight in an effort to grow taller and stronger and thus earn a sign like Sherman’s, but it remains in second place. He looks sadly around and sees his impressive, only slightly shorter, neighbors and realizes that they are all part of “something larger”: a forest (that also has a sign). Clean design extends to sans-serif font and digital illustrations often set on white or pale green space. Only the named trees have detail—arms, expressive faces, and bushy green leaves for hair and beards. The faces of human admirers have varying skin tones. A final page offers other examples of “second-largest things on Earth”—a national park, a country, a state, a mountain, an ocean, and a whale species—and identifies the actual “largest living thing on earth” as a fungus in Oregon.

A gentle reminder that runners-up are important, too. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 11, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-62414-577-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Page Street

Review Posted Online: July 24, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2018

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A solid, small step for diversifying STEM stories.

ASTRONAUT ANNIE

What does Annie want to be?

As career day approaches, Annie wants to keep her job choice secret until her family sees her presentation at school. Readers will figure it out, however, through the title and clues Tadgell incorporates into the illustrations. Family members make guesses about her ambitions that are tied to their own passions, although her brother watches as she completes her costume in a bedroom with a Mae Jemison poster, starry décor, and a telescope. There’s a celebratory mood at the culminating presentation, where Annie says she wants to “soar high through the air” like her basketball-playing mother, “explore faraway places” like her hiker dad, and “be brave and bold” like her baker grandmother (this feels forced, but oven mitts are part of her astronaut costume) so “the whole world will hear my exciting stories” like her reporter grandfather. Annie jumps off a chair to “BLAST OFF” in a small illustration superimposed on a larger picture depicting her floating in space with a reddish ground below. It’s unclear if Annie imagines this scene or if it’s her future-self exploring Mars, but either scenario fits the aspirational story. Backmatter provides further reading suggestions and information about the moon and four women astronauts, one of whom is Jemison. Annie and her family are all black.

A solid, small step for diversifying STEM stories. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 6, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-88448-523-0

Page Count: 36

Publisher: Tilbury House

Review Posted Online: Feb. 4, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2018

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more