A worthwhile snapshot of a family that delights in its international and cross-cultural ties


Eleven relatives from two countries gather under one sun for a wild (literally) birthday bash.

Robinson, author of many acclaimed books about her famous father, Jackie Robinson, writes in this true story about her mother, Rachel (known as Bibi to the grandchildren). Here, she celebrates her 85th birthday on safari in Tanzania with her son and daughter-in-law and their seven children. Though David Robinson (the author’s brother) grew up in Connecticut, he has made his home in Tanzania since 1984, making this celebration a rare opportunity for family togetherness. Over its course, readers will absorb a few words of Swahili, the mother tongue of the grandchildren, and also learn about slavery in Tanzania’s history. The gazelles, lions, giraffes and elephants the family sees on safari, though, will likely upstage the book’s history lessons. Given the number of children and the unfamiliar names of several of them (Nubia, Busaro, Saburi), readers would do well to study the photographs that appear in the backmatter prior to reading the story. In fact, the photographs of the family’s shopping for and cooking a Tanzanian meal may appeal to some readers more than Ford’s acrylic-and-oil illustrations since they vividly represent the beauty of the country and feature mounds of freshly cut pineapples and heaps of interesting market-fresh fare.

A worthwhile snapshot of a family that delights in its international and cross-cultural ties . (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-545-16672-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Oct. 23, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2013

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New parents of daughters will eat these up and perhaps pass on the lessons learned.


All the reasons why a daughter needs a mother.

Each spread features an adorable cartoon animal parent-child pair on the recto opposite a rhyming verse: “I’ll always support you in giving your all / in every endeavor, the big and the small, / and be there to catch you in case you should fall. / I hope you believe this is true.” A virtually identical book, Why a Daughter Needs a Dad, publishes simultaneously. Both address standing up for yourself and your values, laughing to ease troubles, being thankful, valuing friendship, persevering and dreaming big, being truthful, thinking through decisions, and being open to differences, among other topics. Though the sentiments/life lessons here and in the companion title are heartfelt and important, there are much better ways to deliver them. These books are likely to go right over children’s heads and developmental levels (especially with the rather advanced vocabulary); their parents are the more likely audience, and for them, the books provide some coaching in what kids need to hear. The two books are largely interchangeable, especially since there are so few references to mom or dad, but one spread in each book reverts to stereotype: Dad balances the two-wheeler, and mom helps with clothing and hair styles. Since the books are separate, it aids in customization for many families.

New parents of daughters will eat these up and perhaps pass on the lessons learned. (Picture book. 4-8, adult)

Pub Date: May 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4926-6781-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2019

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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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