The loving encounters among animals of different species (and Lauricella’s real-world endeavor to help animals with special...

PINEY THE GOAT NANNY

From the GOA Kids - Goats of Anarchy series

With its retro, appealingly soft-edged digital art, this is the engaging story of how a piglet becomes the “goat nanny” of the title.

Piney the piglet lives inside a farmhouse with his human “mom,” who bakes and vacuums but who also rescues animals, especially goats. At first “mom” just wants him to enjoy life, but Piney longs to have a job just like everyone else. “The chickens ate the bugs and the goats chomped up the weeds.” After trying to help with household chores (Piney becomes entangled in the vacuum cord), he finally finds his special niche. There’s a new goat who needs comforting, a task that Piney apparently can take on. Tiny Prospect grows strong under Piney’s care. When he moves outside, Chibs (with “curled up” legs) and Lyla (with “three legs”) show up and receive the same nurturing care. Howarth’s illustrations are bright and uncomplicated, depicting smiling animals in a somewhat idealized farm setting; readers never see “mom’s” face, just pale hands and ankles. In a short photo essay at the book’s end, Piney’s story is revealed as “The True Story.” The combination of a picture book with the factual story works to show young children how true experiences can be turned effectively into stories.

The loving encounters among animals of different species (and Lauricella’s real-world endeavor to help animals with special needs) are great examples to help children develop empathy. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: April 15, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-63322-332-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Walter Foster Jr.

Review Posted Online: March 4, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2018

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Sweet fare for bed- or naptimes, with a light frosting of natural history.

WOODLAND DREAMS

A sonorous, soporific invitation to join woodland creatures in bedding down for the night.

As in her Moon Babies, illustrated by Amy Hevron (2019), Jameson displays a rare gift for harmonious language and rhyme. She leads off with a bear: “Come home, Big Paws. / Berry picker / Honey trickster / Shadows deepen in the glen. / Lumber back inside your den.” Continuing in the same pattern, she urges a moose (“Velvet Nose”), a deer (“Tiny Hooves”), and a succession of ever smaller creatures to find their nooks and nests as twilight deepens in Boutavant’s woodsy, autumnal scenes and snow begins to drift down. Through each of those scenes quietly walks an alert White child (accompanied by an unusually self-controlled pooch), peering through branches or over rocks at the animals in the foregrounds and sketching them in a notebook. The observer’s turn comes round at last, as a bearded parent beckons: “This way, Small Boots. / Brave trailblazer / Bright stargazer / Cabin’s toasty. Blanket’s soft. / Snuggle deep in sleeping loft.” The animals go unnamed, leaving it to younger listeners to identify each one from the pictures…if they can do so before the verses’ murmurous tempo closes their eyes.

Sweet fare for bed- or naptimes, with a light frosting of natural history. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Oct. 27, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4521-7063-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: Sept. 1, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2020

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Too many bugs, figuratively.

LUCY'S LIGHT

Lucy, “the youngest member of a family of fireflies,” must overcome an irrational, moon-induced anxiety in order to leave her family tree trunk and glow.

The first six pages pull readers into a lush, beautiful world of nighttime: “When the sun has set, silence falls over the Big Forest, and all of the nighttime animals wake up.” Mixed media provide an enchanting forest background, with stylized flora and fauna eventually illuminated by a large, benign moon, because the night “doesn’t like to catch them by surprise.” Turning the page catches readers by surprise, though: the family of fireflies is decidedly comical and silly-looking. Similarly, the text moves from a lulling, magical cadence to a distinct shift in mood as the bugs ready themselves for their foray into the night: “They wave their bottoms in the air, wiggle their feelers, take a deep, deep breath, and sing, ‘Here we go, it’s time to glow!’ ” It’s an acceptable change, but more unevenness follows. Lucy’s excitement about finally joining the other bugs turns to “sobbing” two nights in a row. Instead of directly linking her behavior to understandable reactions of children to newness, the text undermines itself by making Lucy’s parents’ sweet reassurances impotent and using the grandmother’s scientific explanation of moonlight as an unnecessary metaphor. Further detracting from the story, the text becomes ever denser and more complex over the book’s short span.

Too many bugs, figuratively. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Nov. 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-84-16147-00-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Cuento de Luz

Review Posted Online: July 22, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2015

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