Tag: nature

The Wild Robot by Peter Brown

The Wild Robot by Peter Brown

The Wild Robot by Peter Brown (InfoSoup)

A ship carrying crates of robots capsizes in the ocean. Some of the crates float, only to be dashed on the rocks of a small island. One crate though survives and is left safely on the island. Some curious otters explore the crate and accidentally turn on the robot inside. That robot is Roz, designed to ensure her survival and help people. Soon Roz is exploring the island, climbing high on the rocks to see her surroundings. As she explores, the animals of the island declare her a monster and avoid her. Roz begins to acclimate to the island, figuring out how to camouflage herself. It is by sitting still and hidden that she starts to learn the language of the animals around her. As time passes, Roz is no longer gleaming and clean and she can speak with the animals. It isn’t until a deadly accident happens though that Roz shows the island residents who she really is.

This book is entirely magnificent. It is a book about nature, its beauty and grandeur and danger. It is a meditation on the outside, the power of it to change even a robot’s life. It is a look at the importance of listening and learning and finding one’s own way forward in unexpected circumstances. But most of all, it is a book about love and life and the way that finding someone to love transforms each of us.

There is something achingly beautiful about this book. Yes, there is more than enough action and humor to keep the book moving and of interest to children. Yes, the characters are brilliantly created and their relationships are drawn with skill and attention. Yes, its pacing is exceptional. It that ache though, that makes this book exceptional. The way that it is allowed to just be there, loneliness and acceptance, loss and love.

Truly an exceptional read created by a picture book author in his first foray into middle-grade books. Wow. Appropriate for ages 8-12.

Reviewed from library copy.

 

 

Finding Wild by Megan Wagner Lloyd

Finding Wild by Megan Wagner Lloyd

Finding Wild by Megan Wagner Lloyd, illustrated by Abigail Halpin (InfoSoup)

Two children set off to discover the wild, leaving their urban world and heading into a nearby park filled with trees, ferns and birds. There are moments of wonder and some shivers too. Wild smells different from the city too and demands that you breathe it in deeply. Wild can be dangerous, prickly and poisonous, but it can also be filled with softness and soothing. It can be hot and cold. It is filled with secrets to explore and even discoveries to eat and savor. Even in large cities where there doesn’t seem to be room for wild to exist, you can see it if you follow the subtle clues.

Lloyd’s writing is a poem about wilderness and the importance of it in our lives. She doesn’t lecture about it in any way, allowing nature itself to invite readers in more deeply. She allows nature to sing on the page, showing its many sides. She does not shy away from showing that nature can be slightly frightening but balances that nicely with more positive sides of being outside and enjoying the outdoors.

Halpin’s illustrations are done in watercolor and colored pencil. She creates a wild that is filled with huge trees, large leaves, flowers and shadow. It is also full of water, places to swim and berries too. Her art covers the entire page at times, filling it to the brim with nature. Other times, the wild is surrounded by white space on the page, allowing young readers to both feel immersed in green wonder but also able to glimpse it from a distance at times too.

A lovely encouragement to find your own wild in your neighborhood, this picture book should be wildly successful. Appropriate for ages 3-6.

Reviewed from e-galley received from Penguin Random House and Edelweiss.

 

On Bird Hill by Jane Yolen

On Bird Hill by Jane Yolen

On Bird Hill by Jane Yolen, illustrated by Bon Marstall (InfoSoup)

A child goes walking on Bird Hill with their dog, along a shoreline and down paths. On Bird Hill there is a tree that shines with both dark and light. On the trunk is a limb with a twig. On that twig is a nest with a bird on it. Under the bird is an egg and then the chick begins to hatch. The chick hatches and stretches and looks down from the tree, sees everything around him, even the child walking away.

This is the first picture book by Yolen for a new series with Cornell Lab of Ornithology. It plays with the traditional cumulative nursery rhyme style, creating a story that builds and builds. The language is simple while the concept is complicated. It’s a story that insists upon the reader looking closely and seeing beyond the basics to what lies underneath. The book is also circular and spiraling, showing the interplay between humans and nature as one and the same. There is a real playfulness about it and also a deep seriousness that provides a dynamic tension in the book.

The illustrations are wild and whimsical. The world is similar to ours but also so different, filled with green grass, circular ponds, unique trees and interesting birds. They have an almost folksy quality to them that merges with modernism too. They depict nature’s connection to our own lives, particularly in the scene where the shell the chick has hatched from shows the house the child lives in.

A master author has created a poem that dances and lifts which is accompanied by illustrations that surprise and delight. Appropriate for ages 2-5.

Reviewed from library copy.

 

Circle by Jeannie Baker

Circle by Jeannie Baker

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

Frank and Lucky Get Schooled by Lynne Rae Perkins

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.

 

 

Waiting for High Tide by Nikki McClure

Waiting for High Tide by Nikki McClure

Waiting for High Tide by Nikki McClure (InfoSoup)

On a summer day, a boy waits for high tide. He’d love to swim but he’d just get muddy or even stuck. The other animals on the seashore are waiting for high tide too, six long hours. But today is a special day, the boy and his family are going to build a raft. They found a big log and have cut it into three sections. The boy plays on the shore, finding treasures along the way including a pair of pink glasses with one eye covered in barnacles. They work hard on the raft as the water comes in closer and closer. When they stop for lunch, the boy sees birds eating too. The raft is finally ready but there is still time before high tide, so they eat cookies and wait. Finally the raft floats and there is time for jumping, swimming and enjoying the perfect summer day.

McClure proves here that she is as much a writer and poet as an artist. She writes with a depth that is lovely to see in a picture book, offering real insight into the natural world. She also writes with a childlike eye and attitude, drawing parallels between the human world and the natural one. There is an engaging mix of fonts in the text, some of the text large and capitalized in a way that conveys excitement and time passing. The passage of time is such a focus here as the tide slowly comes in. It is a book that celebrates slower times, lingering before enjoying the reward of your hard work.

As always McClure’s art is exceptional. Her cut paperwork is filled with details. The scene of the boy in the barnacle glasses as he explores the shoreline is filled with such tiny details that one can look for some time before you see the chipmunk peeking over the log or the five dollar bill. This is a book for spending some slow time of your own on.

Based on McClure’s own family, this picture book is a quiet look at nature and spending time outside. Appropriate for ages 6-8.

Reviewed from copy received from Abrams.