Populated by pink, gold, and brown children, the story is a sweet evocation of the pleasures of nighttime.

SONG FOR A SUMMER NIGHT

A LULLABY

A rhyming ode to the sights and sounds of a summer night.

A small town or subdivision sits quietly by a hill, with farmland in the distance. Children poke their heads out of windows waiting for the evening’s performance. In rhyme, the sounds and sights of coming night arrive one at a time: leaves go “shh-shh,” fireflies “glint-glint,” bellflowers “pring-pring,” and so on, each plant or animal adding to the twilight chorus. Children come out of their houses into the parkland, where birds and beasts and a rain of flowers gather and then disperse as dark comes. Ink, brush, and digital paint make a soft, blue landscape, and the warmth of the summer air is almost visible. The rhyme is a bit heavy, and a literalist might take issue with some of the cumulative sounds. Bellflowers really don’t ring, one does not hear the fireflies’ glint, and so on, but it all comes together in a refrain that sleepy children might murmur along with the read-aloud. The cover image is a little misleading: the scampering children do not seem to herald a lullaby.

Populated by pink, gold, and brown children, the story is a sweet evocation of the pleasures of nighttime. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: May 12, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-55498-493-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Groundwood

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2015

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A good bet for the youngest bird-watchers.

MAMA BUILT A LITTLE NEST

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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Between its autumn and field-trip themes and the fact that not many books start countdowns from 20, this may find its way to...

PUMPKIN COUNTDOWN

A class visits the pumpkin patch, giving readers a chance to count down from 20.

At the farm, Farmer Mixenmatch gives them the tour, which includes a petting zoo, an educational area, a corn maze and a tractor ride to the pumpkin patch. Holub’s text cleverly though not always successfully rhymes each child’s name within the line: “ ‘Eighteen kids get on our bus,’ says Russ. / ‘But someone’s late,’ says Kate. / ‘Wait for me!’ calls Kiri.” Pumpkins at the tops of pages contain the numerals that match the text, allowing readers to pair them with the orange-colored, spelled-out numbers. Some of the objects proffered to count are a bit of a stretch—“Guess sixteen things we’ll see,” count 14 cars that arrived at the farm before the bus—but Smith’s artwork keeps things easy to count, except for a challenging page that asks readers to search for 17 orange items (answers are at the bottom, upside down). Strangely, Holub includes one page with nothing to count—a sign marks “15 Pumpkin Street.” Charming, multicultural round-faced characters and lots of detail encourage readers to go back through the book scouring pages for the 16 things the kids guessed they might see. Endpapers featuring a smattering of pumpkin facts round out the text.

Between its autumn and field-trip themes and the fact that not many books start countdowns from 20, this may find its way to many library shelves. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: July 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-8075-6660-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Whitman

Review Posted Online: May 16, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2012

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