MARY HAD A LITTLE LAMB

This classic poem, written in 1830, continues to be a favorite childhood rhyme for illustrators to illuminate. Huliska-Beith has chosen to illustrate her version with acrylic, gouache and fabric collages, digitally assembled. Her style aims for gently exaggerated humor, especially the schoolkids’ reactions when they "see a lamb at school." The characters have oversized heads, fabric-patterned clothing and teeny noses. Mary is blonde with puffy, rouged cheeks and wears red cowboy boots, while the lamb’s coat looks like swirls of meringue. Most modern readers will probably be surprised to discover several extra stanzas, and the sentimental, 19th-century language may leave them cold: The teacher advises the children, "And you each gentle animal / in confidence may bind, / and make them follow at your call, / if you are always kind." An author’s note provides a bit of history of the rhyme, citing a dubious (evidently unfounded) claim by Mary Sawyer Tyler that she was the “original” Mary. There is a flock of versions, from board books to big books, and spoofs (Jack Lechner and Bob Staake fracture the tale in Mary Had a Little Lamp, 2008) to sing-alongs, but many are out of print. Kids will respond to the embellished silliness of this one, but for charm, Salley Mavor’s stitchery images can’t be beat (2000). Music is not included. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: March 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-7614-5824-1

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Marshall Cavendish

Review Posted Online: Feb. 11, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2011

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Poetry aside, it’s these beautiful paintings that will inspire a love of trees.

TREES

The artwork is the star of this poetic tribute to trees.

Lush paintings, dense with color, texture, and light, illustrate a simple poem extolling trees. Each spread illuminates a short verse centering on a single idea, such as, “Trees love sky” (a single maple rises into the sky); “Trees love clouds” (viewers look directly up through a redwood canopy to clouds above); “Some trees bloom” (butterflies alight on apple blossoms); or “Some trees are old” (a gnarled bristlecone pine stands sentinel on a ledge). Bozic uses acrylic paints directly on wooden panels, and the wood grains that show through give each illustration added dimension and texture, especially when the paint is thin or absent entirely. The effect is enchanting, and the intricately detailed illustrations will catch the attention of sophisticated readers. However, the masterful technique serves Johnston’s simple text (suitable for very young children) at face value, missing the opportunity to create a rich dialogue between poem and art. Still, the book is a visual wonder. Each page is independent of the others with no narrative, though the characteristics of trees that are highlighted move gently and logically from the natural world to the human interaction within it. Backmatter includes the names of all the trees depicted as well as a list of conservation organizations and further reading. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Poetry aside, it’s these beautiful paintings that will inspire a love of trees. (author's note, illustrator's note) (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Oct. 19, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5344-7517-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Paula Wiseman/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2021

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While there are many rhyming truck books out there, this stands out for being a collection of poems.

DIGGER, DOZER, DUMPER

Rhyming poems introduce children to anthropomorphized trucks of all sorts, as well as the jobs that they do.

Adorable multiethnic children are the drivers of these 16 trucks—from construction equipment to city trucks, rescue vehicles and a semi—easily standing in for readers, a point made very clear on the final spread. Varying rhyme schemes and poem lengths help keep readers’ attention. For the most part, the rhymes and rhythms work, as in this, from “Cement Mixer”: “No time to wait; / he can’t sit still. / He has to beg your pardon. / For if he dawdles on the way, / his slushy load will harden.” Slonim’s trucks each sport an expressive pair of eyes, but the anthropomorphism stops there, at least in the pictures—Vestergaard sometimes takes it too far, as in “Bulldozer”: “He’s not a bully, either, / although he’s big and tough. / He waits his turn, plays well with friends, / and pushes just enough.” A few trucks’ jobs get short shrift, to mixed effect: “Skid-Steer Loader” focuses on how this truck moves without the typical steering wheel, but “Semi” runs with a royalty analogy and fails to truly impart any knowledge. The acrylic-and-charcoal artwork, set against white backgrounds, keeps the focus on the trucks and the jobs they are doing.

While there are many rhyming truck books out there, this stands out for being a collection of poems. (Picture book/poetry. 3-6)

Pub Date: Aug. 27, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-7636-5078-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: May 29, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2013

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