Little Doctor and the Fearless Beast by Sophie Gilmore (9781771473446)
Little Doctor takes care of crocodiles. She offers kindness and gentleness while she marvels at their big jaws and muscular tails. They share their stories with her as she treats their ailments and heals them. Still, when Big Mean, the largest crocodile of all, comes to her clinic, Little Doctor isn’t sure that she will be able to help. Big Mean won’t let her close enough to figure out what is wrong. Little Doctor won’t give up though and manages to get herself in quite a dangerous spot as she falls into Big Mean’s open jaws. But what she finds there teaches her that Big Mean isn’t that mean after all.
Gilmore’s picture book creates a fascinating dynamic between human and beast. The human is the smaller and weaker one here, giving help to the huge green creatures. I also appreciate that the doctor is a girl, bravely working with animals who have sharp teeth and certainly aren’t cuddly in any way. Her bravery and kindness form the heart of the story as does the natural building of trust between her and Big Mean. Readers will think that Little Doctor has made a huge mistake, but in the end, her knowledge and deep trust shines through.
Gilmore’s art is filled with small details, particularly when showing Little Doctor’s clinic. From the eggs in display stands to the series of different sized and shaped windows, this is a special space. Gilmore fills the rooms with crocodiles, huge swaths of green scales that are daunting. The images very successfully support the story.
A grand look at trust, kindness and care filled with crocodiles and one brave young doctor. Appropriate for ages 3-5.
Reviewed from library copy.
When Spring Comes to the DMZ by Uk-Bae Lee (9780874869729)
The DMZ on the Korean Peninsula separates North and South Korea. It is a space of land where people are not allowed to cross and has become a wildlife sanctuary over the 65 years that it has stood. The DMZ stretches 154 miles from the Yellow Sea to the Sea of Japan. While there are no soldiers inside the DMZ, there are heavily armed soldiers on either side and miles of barbed wire fencing. In this picture book, the seasons turn in the DMZ and wildlife flourishes each of those seasons. Meanwhile, a grandfather makes the climb up to view the DMZ each season, looking at the land he once lived on. Against the pastoral backdrop of the nature in the DMZ are the movements of the troops on both sides, drilling and maneuvering.
Lee has created a picture book that embraces the complexities of the Korean Peninsula. He shows the impact the creation of the two nations has had on residents and the ongoing constant military presence in their lives. At the same time, Lee focuses too on the wildlife, animals, birds, fish and plants that are finding footing in the DMZ, some of them almost extinct elsewhere. It is a picture book that shows the hope of peace, the importance of space for native creatures and plants, and the impact of war.
The illustrations by Lee are beautiful. They capture the Korean landscape with the mountains in the background, the miles of barbed wire, and the lushness of the DMZ complete with rusting machinery. Turning from one page to the next, readers experience the beauty of nature and then the oppressiveness of the soldiers’ presence.
A complex and intelligent look at war and peace in our world. Appropriate for ages 5-8.
Reviewed from e-galley provided by Plough Publishing House.