Awe-inspiring, exquisitely rendered, indeed “unforgettable.” (author’s note) (Picture book. 4-9)

OUT OF THE WOODS

A TRUE STORY OF AN UNFORGETTABLE EVENT

In 1914, a 4-year-old boy living in Gowganda, Ontario, witnesses a forest fire that forces people and animals into a nearby lake to survive.

Bond recounts this true story of her grandfather Antonio, who grew up in a rural, lakeshore hotel his mother operated. Antonio spends his time helping hotel staff, peeking into guests’ rooms, hanging out with lumberjacks, trappers, and silver miners, and exploring the dense forest looking for animals. One dry summer day, a forest fire quickly spreads toward the hotel. To escape, everyone rushes into the lake, soon followed by rabbits, foxes, bobcats, raccoons, wolves, deer, moose, porcupines, elk, squirrels, possums, and bears fleeing from the woods. To Antonio’s amazement, people and animals “stood close enough to touch.” Eventually, the fire dies down, the people return to the still-standing hotel, and the animals depart. Delicate watercolor-and–pen-and-ink illustrations bring palpable realism to this vivid imagined memory. Pale sepia, gray, and green washes combine with fine-lined figures to evoke the nostalgic feel of old etchings. Scenes of boisterous boarders in the dining room contrast with images of the same shocked men knee-deep in the lake watching the flaming red sky. Sensitively drawn animals, tentatively and nervously waiting together in shared peril with humans, speak volumes.

Awe-inspiring, exquisitely rendered, indeed “unforgettable.” (author’s note) (Picture book. 4-9)

Pub Date: July 21, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-374-38077-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Margaret Ferguson/Farrar, Straus & Giroux

Review Posted Online: March 25, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2015

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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

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An invitation to wonder, imagine and look at everything (humans included) in a new way.

NOAH CHASES THE WIND

A young boy sees things a little differently than others.

Noah can see patterns in the dust when it sparkles in the sunlight. And if he puts his nose to the ground, he can smell the “green tang of the ants in the grass.” His most favorite thing of all, however, is to read. Noah has endless curiosity about how and why things work. Books open the door to those answers. But there is one question the books do not explain. When the wind comes whistling by, where does it go? Noah decides to find out. In a chase that has a slight element of danger—wind, after all, is unpredictable—Noah runs down streets, across bridges, near a highway, until the wind lifts him off his feet. Cowman’s gusty wisps show each stream of air turning a different jewel tone, swirling all around. The ribbons gently bring Noah home, setting him down under the same thinking tree where he began. Did it really happen? Worthington’s sensitive exploration leaves readers with their own set of questions and perhaps gratitude for all types of perspective. An author’s note mentions children on the autism spectrum but widens to include all who feel a little different.

An invitation to wonder, imagine and look at everything (humans included) in a new way. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: April 14, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-60554-356-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Redleaf Lane

Review Posted Online: Feb. 3, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2015

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