More female-powered action from an inspired creative team.


Following Special Delivery (2015) and The Only Fish in the Sea (2017), a third adventure from Stead and Cordell finds young Sadie playing a supporting role to elderly Aunt Josephine, whose tales of past adventures drive the action.

Aunt J directs Sadie to ignore the persistent knocking. “It could be a vacuum salesman. Or more likely, a suitor….I have been the world over, Sadie, and today—I will sleep past noon.” But instead of sleeping, she spins a yarn. Beginning with her work as a 9-year-old member of a multiracial scientific team in “the jungles of Peru,” Aunt Josephine recounts sighting a giant frog as it swallows the young son (smitten with her) of the recently deceased expedition leader. The frog’s escape begets Aunt J’s around-the-world journey. “For though I didn’t care much for the admiral’s son, I do abhor a job unfinished. And it was my job to catalog that frog!” Cordell’s visual drollery embellishes the exploits, which include Josephine’s dog, a rhea, a parrot, a tortoise, an ordinary frog, and a few canaries. Thought-bubble vignettes show the group at Egyptian pyramids, the Taj Mahal, and the Roman Colosseum. Over years, a pith-helmeted Josephine hikes, bikes, dives, and pilots a helicopter—all in exuberant but vain pursuit of that frog. Cordell provides hand-lettered display type for some text along with a houseful of domestic animals and visual clues to Josephine’s and Sadie’s prior adventures. A final page lets readers discover the source of that knocking. Hint: it’s no vacuum salesman. Both Sadie and Aunt J present White.

More female-powered action from an inspired creative team. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Feb. 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-8234-4426-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Neal Porter/Holiday House

Review Posted Online: Dec. 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2021

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A fresh take on an enduring theme.


When Irie tells her momma she hates her big poofy hair, her momma explains that everything about Irie was perfectly custom made.

Irie wants her hair to swing and bounce like the “pretty hair” that “everyone else” has. But Momma tells her that she didn’t make Irie to be like everyone else. “I made you to be you.” Momma explains that when she was expecting Irie, she talked to God and made special requests. Out of all the skin tones in the world, Momma chose her favorite for Irie. The same for her hair type, her sparkling eyes, her kissable nose, and her bright smile. Momma also chose a good heart for Irie, and when she was born, she was perfect, and as she grew, she was kind. When Momma tells her “you are all of my favorite things,” Irie runs to the mirror and sees herself with new eyes: a “most perfect me.” This sweet, imaginative tale highlights the importance of parental love in boosting children’s self-esteem and will be a touching read-aloud for families who have struggled with issues of fitting in. The story is a challenging one to illustrate; the full-color digital art is warm with soft shades of natural-looking color but struggles to create engaging scenes to accompany Momma’s explanation of her conversation with God. The multiple spreads showing Irie and Momma flying through the atmosphere among clouds, stars, and hearts become a bit monotonous and lack depth of expression. Characters are Black. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A fresh take on an enduring theme. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: May 3, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-42694-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: March 2, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2022

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A good bet for the youngest bird-watchers.


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

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