February 1, 2017 Booklist 53 www.booklistonline.com
ming woods”; later, the dark is “near brimming
now.” The text, with rhyme that delights and
surprises, is big and bold for main concepts,
against the dark sky as the book closes. The
colors of the approaching nightfall are soft, the
images impressionistic, and lots of swirls and
horizontal lines propel viewers forward. Like
Mordicai Gerstein’s The Night World (2015),
this is a celebration of the approaching darkness and all that happens in the night. Repeat
visits reveal new images hidden within the illustrations, and the gentle text lends itself well
to read-alouds. A lovely book from start to finish. —Edie Ching
Along the River.
By Vanina Starkoff. Illus. by the author.
Tr. by Jane Springer.
Apr. 2017. 32p. Groundwood, $17.95 (9781554989775).
A joyful trip in an undesignated country
uses the theme of “everyone travels down the
river” to show the exuberance of water transport. The horizontal trim size is perfect for the
boats’ forward motion, as each page reveals yet
another type of vessel: houseboats, cruisers,
cargo ships, canoes, dinghies, and sailboats,
all peopled with smiling, brown-skinned families. Each boat has a theme: “Beautiful Smile”
sells flowers, “Happiness School” is packed
with waving children, a surfboarder holds a
smiling bikini-clad passenger, a musical boat
contains an active rhythmic band. A restaurant boat ferries loving couples dining, and a
long dugout carries ripe watermelons. Each
vessel shares with the next, producing happiness and smiles all around through all four
seasons as they continue downward to the sea,
followed by a bevy of swans and a trailing bale
of turtles. The acrylic digitized artwork uses
vibrant colors; reds, greens, and blues pop
against bright and sunny backgrounds. The
journey ends delightfully when the endpapers
announce that everything is “good here” and
“I am happy.” —Lolly Gepson
By Phyllis Root. Illus. by G. Brian Karas.
Mar. 2017. 32p. Candlewick, $16.99 (9780763674991).
This picture book beautifully blends effort-
less rhyming text with soft-hued mixed-media
illustrations to encourage young gardeners to
start growing something—anywhere. Ques-
tions are built into the narrative and guide
very young audiences through various steps:
“Where can you plant your anywhere farm?”
“What can you plant?” “Who might come
to visit?” “What do you need?” Readers are
informed that all they need is some dirt, sun-
shine, water, one farmer, and one tiny seed
to begin. Empty lots are suggested as poten-
tial gardens, but so are an imaginative array
of more manageable sites: crates on porches,
windowsill boxes, pots, cups, old boots, and so
on. Visitors include bugs and butterflies, along
with other possible anywhere farmers. Both
text and illustrations address an urban setting,
featuring a satisfying mix of neighbors of vari-
ous ages and ethnicities. The ending suggests
that all it takes is one farmer and one anywhere
farm to encourage other gardeners—which just
might result in a community everywhere farm.
A great read-aloud for aspiring gardeners and
farmers. —Kathleen McBroom
Bee & Me.
By Alison Jay. Illus. by the author.
Mar. 2017. 32p. Candlewick, $15.99 (9780763690106).
A young girl in a high-rise apartment is surprised when a bee flies in her open window. The
insect is tired and hungry, so the child revives
her with sugar water and sends her off. Later,
after a rainstorm, the girl assists the bee again,
initiating an unlikely but satisfying friendship. After many shared city adventures, the
now-enormous bee takes the child on a flight
to the country, where they view the plants that
are so vital to the bee’s life. Following winter
and spring, the bee returns, this time sporting
a queen’s crown. Jay’s wordless picture book
fairly teems with small details that will intrigue
youngsters. The artwork, rendered softly in
oils, favors sunny earth tones and makes good
use of multiple perspectives and graphic-novel
conventions. Although the science isn’t quite
right (real queen bees assume their role soon
after hatching, not after multiple seasons), this
story offers much to admire and appreciate.
Appended with a few bee facts. —Kay Weisman
By Lindsay Ward. Illus. by the author.
Mar. 2017. 40p. Amazon/Two Lions, $16.99
Move over, ninjas, barbarians are here—or,
in this case, “brobarians,” two small brothers
who battle in their backyard. Once at peace,
but now locked into an escalating war (begun
over a broken cookie jar), titans Iggy and Otto
clash royally when Otto steals Iggy’s most
prized possession: his baby bottle. It appears
that both might lose everything when Mama-barbarian steps in and the warring brobarians
are sent to the “dungeon of seclusion.” But by
bath time, it is clear that the brothers will “live
to fight another day”—and this time, perhaps,
side by side. While the narration is lofty and
faux serious, the illustrations show goofy kids
working hard at play. This disparity provides
a good amount of the humor, while displaying how deeply kids immerse themselves in
fantasy worlds. Never mind that Iggy wears a
mop and diapers and uses a rattle for a sword
or that Otto has wacky headgear: in their
imaginations, they are masters. The over-the-top tone of the narration makes this a natural
for a read-aloud. —Randall Enos
The Chupacabra Ate the Candelabra.
By Marc Tyler Nobleman. Illus. by Ana
Mar. 2017. 32p. Penguin/Nancy Paulsen, $17.99
(9780399174438). K–Gr. 3.
One night, goats Jayna, Bumsie, and Pep
worry the chupacabra might come to dinner.
(The only thing Jayna knows about the chupacabra is that it likes to eat goats.) Hoping
to scare him off, the not-so-intrepid trio departs with a candelabra providing light. Sure
enough, they find the sharp-fanged creature,
who jumps out and gobbles the candelabra.
Their next encounter ends with the creature
eating a cucaracha. Alas, the chupacabra’s still
hungry, and the goats fear their time has come.
However, his most-favorite food of all is also
the most surprising. Vibrant folk-style illustrations in watercolor, ink, and gouache depict the
expressive goats and the sometimes looming—
but never very scary—chupacabra. The somewhat lengthy narrative incorporates plenty
of lively touches, from the goats’ humorous
wordplay to some playfully formatted text.
The book doesn’t have a glossary or pronunciation key for the occasional Spanish words,
and without foreknowledge of some elements
(knowledge of a certain type of cheese and the
idiom “the whole enchilada“), some story aspects might not come across. Still, an amusing
take on the legendary beast. —Shelle Rosenfeld
Flowers for Sarajevo.
By John McCutcheon. Illus. by Kristy
Apr. 2017. 32p. Peachtree, $19.95 (9781561459438).
After Drasko’s father is sent away to war, it’s
up to him to sell flowers from their stand in
the Sarajevo market. The tense mood pervading the city makes it hard to be optimistic or
kind, especially after a bomb kills 22 people
in the market. But a cellist’s simple, defiant
act of beauty inspires Drasko to find a shred
of hope. Based on a real-life event after a notorious bombing in Sarajevo, McCutcheon’s
moving picture book follows Drasko as he
copes with his father’s absence and watches
the cellist, Vedran Smailović, play a mournful
adagio every day for 22 days. Caldwell’s thick-outlined figures are deeply expressive, and her
treatment of the bombing is appropriately
scary but never gruesome. The lengthy text
might make this better suited to the older end
of the picture-book set, and it will surely raise
some questions, but an author’s note briefly
explaining the Bosnian conflict offers some
context. An included audio CD (
unavailable for review) contains a performance by
Smailović. A bittersweet account of the power
of art in dark times. —Sarah Hunter
Mighty, Mighty Construction Site.
By Sherri Duskey Rinker. Illus. by Tom
Feb. 2017. 32p. Chronicle, $16.99 (9781452152165).
Here is the rock-pounding, deep-digging
sequel to the highly acclaimed Goodnight,