An attractive addition to the nature shelf.

SNOW BIRDS

Rhyming couplets introduce birds one might see in spite of winter snows.

Hall describes behaviors that help 17 species survive cold winters. She begins and ends with the blue jays familiar to readers east of the Rockies: a pair that takes peanuts from a feeder to hide for later and then, in spring, builds a nest for a new generation. In between she introduces a broad range of birds, some residents and some with shorter seasonal migrations that end in parts of the U.S. that are cold and snowy. Carolina wrens, snow geese, black-capped chickadees, American tree sparrows, downy woodpeckers, and northern cardinals are birds whose winter ranges span much of the country; common redpolls, snow buntings, black rosy-finches, Atlantic puffins, Bohemian waxwings, ruffed grouse, great gray and snowy owls, and golden crowned kinglets frequent only small parts. Readers are quite unlikely to encounter an ivory gull stealing its winter food from polar bears! Desmond’s double-page spreads show the birds beautifully, and they include important details about their appearances, their usual numbers, and their environments. Predominantly done in muted tones with lots of black, white, and shades of gray, they have spots of color when appropriate. Where the bird’s sounds aren’t included in the poem, they’re worked into the images. Hall’s skillful poetry reads aloud well, making this a solid candidate for small-group storytime even where the birds—or even the snow—aren’t familiar. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10.5-by-18-inch double-page spreads viewed at 81.6% of actual size.)

An attractive addition to the nature shelf. (further information) (Informational picture book/poetry. 4-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4197-4203-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: Sept. 29, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2020

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Amid inconsistencies of format and information, the illustrations end up giving the most clarity about this festival.

DIWALI

From the Celebrate the World series

Diwali, the festival of lights, a five-day celebration that has many different forms, is celebrated in different ways across India and in many other countries.

This board book cursorily presents the different rituals associated with this celebration of the Hindu New Year, including getting the house ready to welcome Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth; decorating the house with rangoli and diyas; and celebrating with family, friends, fireworks, and good food. The text is simple and gives only very basic information. “On the fifth and final day of Diwali, we celebrate brothers and sisters. The lifelong bond between siblings is special, and we honor that.” The illustrations show four different sets of siblings celebrating each other in different ways, none of which are mentioned in the text, making it difficult for younger readers to understand the complexity of the celebration. Sreenivasan’s illustrations are colorful, detailed, and authentic, and they carry the book. They feature happy and smiling dark-haired people with a range of skin tones, diverse in ethnicity and dress. In bright, vivid colors, intergenerational families and friends from different regions come alive, dressed up in their colorful best, celebrating and enjoying the festival together in different ways. The board format of this title does not match the age range and conceptual level of the text.

Amid inconsistencies of format and information, the illustrations end up giving the most clarity about this festival. (Board book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 28, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5344-1990-2

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Little Simon/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Sept. 2, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2019

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A delightful story of love and hope.

OUR SUBWAY BABY

Families are formed everywhere—including large metropolitan mass-transit systems!

Baby Kevin, initially known as “Danny ACE Doe,” was found in the New York City’s 14th Street subway station, which serves the A-C-E lines, by one of his future fathers, Danny. Kevin’s other father, Pete (author Mercurio), serves as the narrator, explaining how the two men came to add the newborn to their family. Readers are given an abridged version of the story from Danny and Pete’s point of view as they work to formally adopt Kevin and bring him home in time for Christmas. The story excels at highlighting the determination of loving fathers while still including realistic moments of hesitation, doubt, and fear that occur for new and soon-to-be parents. The language is mindful of its audience (for example using “piggy banks” instead of “bank accounts” to discuss finances) while never patronizing young readers. Espinosa’s posterlike artwork—which presents the cleanest New York readers are ever likely to see—extends the text and makes use of unexpected angles to heighten emotional scenes and moments of urgency. The diversity of skin tones, ages, and faces (Danny and Pete both present white, and Kevin has light brown skin) befits the Big Apple. Family snapshots and a closing author’s note emphasize that the most important thing in any family is love. (This book was reviewed digitally with 11.3-by-18-inch double-page spreads viewed at 43% of actual size.)

A delightful story of love and hope. (Informational picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-42754-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2020

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