A gorgeous-looking lesson that will satisfy kids and parents alike.

SOMETHING WONDERFUL

An illustrated children’s book about the interconnected life cycles of tropical rainforest plants and pollinators.

As the story opens, a “golden seed” drops from the sky and embeds itself into the bark of a tree, which, over time, grows roots and overtakes its host, becoming its own adult plant. This new fig tree goes on to bear fruit, and special fig wasps burrow and bury their eggs inside the figs. Those eggs will later hatch, and the spawn will go off and pollinate more fig trees in an interconnected cycle. Meanwhile, a chestnut-mandibled toucan eats a ripened fruit, deposits new seeds from a great height, and the cycle of life continues. On each page, a red-eyed tree frog plays a concurrent game of hide-and-seek. Fully illustrated backmatter further explains the life cycle of fig wasps and offers encyclopedic information about fig-tree species, red-eyed tree frogs, and, of course, the spectacular, aforementioned toucan. Ritter’s narrative offers condensed but informative text, sometimes from the point of view of the seed and, at other times, from that of the wasp. It’s as if one is watching a documentary narrated by English nature historian David Attenborough, to whom this book is dedicated. That said, the writing does perhaps rely too heavily on the refrain, “Something wonderful was about to happen,” which appears four times. However, debut illustrator Gonzalez’s immersive and meticulously detailed drawings elevate the rainforest story and will reward multiple readings. Each page is executed with scientific precision, and an entire canopy of forest greens and brown tree bark are shown in panoramic spreads. It’s a captivating amalgam of color and information that will keep young readers guessing and exploring. STEM advocates will also be very pleased to share this book with future plant lovers.

A gorgeous-looking lesson that will satisfy kids and parents alike.

Pub Date: March 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-9998960-1-3

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Pacific Street Publishing

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2020

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A lesson that never grows old, enacted with verve by two favorite friends

WAITING IS NOT EASY!

From the Elephant & Piggie series

Gerald the elephant learns a truth familiar to every preschooler—heck, every human: “Waiting is not easy!”

When Piggie cartwheels up to Gerald announcing that she has a surprise for him, Gerald is less than pleased to learn that the “surprise is a surprise.” Gerald pumps Piggie for information (it’s big, it’s pretty, and they can share it), but Piggie holds fast on this basic principle: Gerald will have to wait. Gerald lets out an almighty “GROAN!” Variations on this basic exchange occur throughout the day; Gerald pleads, Piggie insists they must wait; Gerald groans. As the day turns to twilight (signaled by the backgrounds that darken from mauve to gray to charcoal), Gerald gets grumpy. “WE HAVE WASTED THE WHOLE DAY!…And for WHAT!?” Piggie then gestures up to the Milky Way, which an awed Gerald acknowledges “was worth the wait.” Willems relies even more than usual on the slightest of changes in posture, layout and typography, as two waiting figures can’t help but be pretty static. At one point, Piggie assumes the lotus position, infuriating Gerald. Most amusingly, Gerald’s elephantine groans assume weighty physicality in spread-filling speech bubbles that knock Piggie to the ground. And the spectacular, photo-collaged images of the Milky Way that dwarf the two friends makes it clear that it was indeed worth the wait.

A lesson that never grows old, enacted with verve by two favorite friends . (Early reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 4, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4231-9957-1

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Nov. 5, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2014

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Readers who (inexplicably) find David Lawrence’s Pickle and Penguin (2004) just too weird may settle in more comfortably...

LOST AND FOUND

A lad finds a penguin on his doorstep and resolutely sets out to return it in this briefly told import. 

Eventually, he ends up rowing it all the way back to Antarctica, braving waves and storms, filling in the time by telling it stories. But then, feeling lonely after he drops his silent charge off, he belatedly realizes that it was probably lonely too, and turns back to find it. Seeing Jeffers’s small, distant figures in wide, simply brushed land- and sea-scapes, young viewers will probably cotton to the penguin’s feelings before the boy himself does—but all’s well that ends well, and the reunited companions are last seen adrift together in the wide blue sea. 

Readers who (inexplicably) find David Lawrence’s Pickle and Penguin (2004) just too weird may settle in more comfortably with this—slightly—less offbeat friendship tale. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-399-24503-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2005

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