Circle by Jeannie Baker (InfoSoup)
As a young boy in a wheelchair dreams of flying, a godwit takes off from the beach. The bird embarks on a journey from Australia or New Zealand to the Arctic and then back again, performing the longest unbroken migration in the world. The reader gets to see the long and arduous flight with only one stop to eat along the way. The godwit reaches the Arctic where he attracts a mate and has chicks, but not all of them survive the predators. The chick who survives is left behind by his parents to make the journey separately as the godwit returns to the air to fly back south.
The bulk of the book is on the remarkable godwit and his story of grit and resilience on his journty. Framing that story though is the story of a boy and his recovery, allowing the bird to speak to the importance of endurance and spirit as anyone is facing difficulty. The text is poetic and lush, containing evocative phrasing like “they follow an ancient, invisible pathway” and “One chick hides, crouched and still, disappearing into the colors of the land.”
Baker’s art is simply awe-inspiring. Using collages, she creates entire worlds on the page. The tundra in the Arctic has individual blades of grass that fade into mosses and lichen while the godwit tries to defend his nest against a fox. Other pages capture landmarks like the Great Barrier Reef. There are northern mountain ranges, large cities and southern beaches. The illustrations are incredible.
A noteworthy picture book, this book is filled with information on a remarkable animal accompanied by exceptional illustrations. Appropriate for ages 4-7.
Reviewed from library copy.
Frank and Lucky Get Schooled by Lynne Rae Perkins (InfoSoup)
Frank was having a horrible day until his parents took him to get a new dog at the shelter. That’s when Frank met Lucky and Lucky met Frank. They learned a lot about each other, but they also both just loved learning things. Lucky loved science, especially learning about the ducks in the pond. He also loved exploring nature, handily bringing a lot of it back with him when he returned home so that Frank could study it closely. There was math too, questions about how many dog biscuits Lucky deserved and how much hair he could shed. Dogs can even be heroes, though Lucky may not have been particularly heroic when eating the entire birthday cake. Art, languages, geography and more were studied as Lucky and Frank spend time together. There is so much to learn when on walks together!
This is an unusual picture book, one that is immensely clever and completely noteworthy. Perkins doesn’t create a linear picture book here, rather the story of a boy and his dog is specifically told in different school subjects. This makes the book a very dynamic read and offers wry insights into the perspective of both dog and human as they spend their days together outdoors. The focus is on exploration and learning, which both of them do in different but also parallel ways. There is humor throughout, intelligently speaking to the relationship of human and pet but also to learning in a larger way about life.
The art by Perkins is stellar. Done in pen, ink and watercolor, the illustrations are humorous but also delicate and realistic. With different and interesting perspectives used, each page is different from the next but also part of a cohesive whole. A dynamic mix of different sized illustrations makes the book all the more fun to read.
Children will respond to the idea of learning in life and outdoors and will also love Lucky right from the beginning. Appropriate for ages 4-7.
Reviewed from copy received from Greenwillow Books.