Log In

Subscriber-Only Content; You must be a PW subscriber to access the Table-of-Contents Database.

Get a digital subscription to Publishers Weekly for only $19.95/month.

Your subscription gives you instant access exclusive feature articles on notable figures in the publishing industry, he latest industry news, interviews of up and coming authors and bestselling authors, and access over 200,000 book reviews.

PW "All Access" site license members have access to PW's subscriber-only website content. To find out more about PW's site license subscription options please email: pw@pubservice.com or call 1-800-278-2991 (U.S.) or 1-818-487-2069 (all other countries), Monday-Friday between 5am and 5pm Pacific time.

The Forest Man: The True Story of Jadav Payeng

Anne Matheson, illus. by Kay Widdowson. Flowerpot, $16.99 (40p) ISBN 978-1-4867-1816-0

After the Brahmaputra River flooded and heavy monsoons devastated the river island of Majuli (“the forests were washed away, leaving only sand”), 14-year-old Jadav Payeng began planting trees to keep the island from “being slowly washed away.” For the next 40 years, Payeng continued planting trees—knowing “he would need many different trees and plants to make a strong and healthy forest”—traveling by foot, boat, and bike to tend them. As the forest grew, birds, plants, and animals returned: “Cows and deer, monkeys and elephants, rabbits, tigers, and even a few rare one-horned rhinos.” Bright, stylized illustrations of the Indian forest’s smiling inhabitants support the simple text. Supplemental pages identify animals, offer information about the forest, and include a glossary; while sales of the book support a tree-planting nonprofit, it is unclear whether any profits will directly support Payeng’s ongoing efforts. Ages 5–8. (Apr.)

Reviewed on 02/14/2020 | Details & Permalink

show more
A Basket Full of Figs

Ori Elon, illus. by Menahem Halberstadt. Green Bean, $12.95 (32p) ISBN 978-1-78438-472-2

In this winsome retelling of a Midrash tale, the Roman emperor Hadrian sees a very old man, followed by a duck, planting a fig tree. Curious, Hadrian says, “the tree is so small... and you are so old! Surely you won’t live long enough to eat its fruit?” The old man explains that the tree is a “gift” and points out that when he came into the world there “were lots of trees... wonderful gifts that earlier generations had kindly left for me.” Years later, Hadrian finds the man, still living and enjoying the figs; he shares some with Hadrian, who rewards him with gold (a detail extraneous to the moral that trees are a gift themselves). The kinetic, sketchy lines of Halberstadt’s illustrations appealingly depict Hadrian, in full Roman regalia, trotting through a jumbled village where residents peer out from patched curtains and ducks face off with mounted steeds. Ages 5–8. (Apr.)

Reviewed on 02/14/2020 | Details & Permalink

show more
Peter and the Tree Children

Peter Wohlleben, illus. by Cale Atkinson. Greystone Kids, $17.95 (40p) ISBN 978-1-77164-457-0

A lonely squirrel and an opinionated forester go on an idiosyncratic forest journey in this heavy-handed picture book. The plot—Piet, the squirrel, laments, “I am all alone. I don’t have any family,” and Peter, the forester, suggests that they search for “tree families”—awkwardly allows Wohlleben to revisit key themes from his bestseller, The Hidden Life of Trees, including tree communication and optimal forest management practices. Peter and Piet encounter heavy logging machinery that is creating muddy tracks and packing “the soil down so much that little trees can’t grow in it,” a sustainable forester using horses to drag logs, fragile saplings in a deforested area (their nice smell “means that the trees don’t feel so well”), and finally, butterfly-like beech “children” around a parent deep in the woods. Atkinson’s digitally rendered, non-naturalistic illustrations have a cartoonish sensibility that contrasts oddly with Wohlleben’s soulful feeling for the natural world. Ages 4–8. (Apr.)

Reviewed on 02/14/2020 | Details & Permalink

show more
Bathing in the Forest

Marc Ayats, trans. from the Spanish by Jon Brokenbrow, illus. by Nívola Uyá. Cuento de Luz, $16.95 (28p) ISBN 978-84-16733-58-3

A green-clad child, “the little girl of the forest,” presides over a surreal wood populated by pink squirrels: “Submerged deep in the shadows of the trees, I watch the people who walk through my home. I welcome them all with a loving embrace.” She greets several gray figures, inviting each to “bathe in the forest”: Mr. Grayshadow, who is “full of loneliness”; Mrs. Graystone, who “is frightened... as if a great weight were bearing down upon her soul”; and a nervous little boy, “the youngest of the Graystone family.” As each spends time amid the trees, color and contentment return to them. The volume’s concluding meditation only partly clarifies what a “forest bath” is—the Japanese practice of walking in the woods to lift the spirits is trending in self-help pop culture—something that may prove confusing for readers. Uyá’s illustrations are notable for their mix of delicate, folkloric detail with stylized exaggerations. Ages 4–8. (Mar.)

Reviewed on 02/14/2020 | Details & Permalink

show more
Only a Tree Knows How to Be a Tree

Mary Murphy. Candlewick, $16.99 (32p) ISBN 978-1-5362-1470-3

Wonder and significance permeate this catalogue of the essence of natural things: “A tree has leaves that turn sunshine into tree food. Amazing!... Only a tree knows how to be a tree.” Wending from trees and dogs to birds and fish, and escalating up to the Earth itself, Murphy offers each item an affirmation of singularity: “There are countless stars in the universe and many, many planets. But Earth is our home. Only Earth knows how to be Earth.” After celebrating the specialness of “every comet, flower, cat, and beetle,” Murphy pivots to humans: “As for people, there are billions of us... Every single person is different. And only they know how to be them. Only I know how to be me. And only you know how to be you.” Bright, chunky illustrations evoke children’s drawings, depicting figures of various skin tones, some wearing glasses, some using wheelchairs, playing in an irreplaceable world. Ages 3–7. (Mar.)

Reviewed on 02/14/2020 | Details & Permalink

show more
Follow the Recipe: Poems About Imagination, Celebration, and Cake

Marilyn Singer, illus. by Marjorie Priceman. Dial, $16.99 (48p) ISBN 978-0-735227-90-3

Singer weaves the language of cooking with witty and poignant observations of the world in this collection of inventive recipes for sentiments and ideas. Expressed in both free verse and rhyme, poems in myriad forms invite readers into the state of attention required for both cooking and living a thoughtful life. They range from the meta (“recipe for a good recipe”) to the experiential (“recipes for enjoying the seasons”) and conceptual (“recipe for disaster”), offering moments of conventional but appealingly rendered wisdom. “Recipe for endurance” charges readers to “think of a time before blenders and mixers/ electrical fixers/ ...Keep stirring the pot.” Caldecott Honoree Priceman surrounds each poem with scenes of animals, flowers, children of varying ethnicities, and hand-lettering, rendered in a vibrant mix of gouache, collage, and block prints; together, it resembles the kind of scrapbook-esque recipe collection that one might inherit from a loved one. An inventive and artfully composed volume. Ages 4–8. (Mar.)

Reviewed on 02/14/2020 | Details & Permalink

show more
Feast of Peas

Kashmira Sheth, illus. by Jeffrey Ebbeler. Peachtree, $17.99 (32p) ISBN 978-1-68263-135-5

Collaborators Sheth and Ebbeler offer a lyrical fable set in India about Jiva, a man who tends to his vegetable garden daily and holds a special fondness for his peas. “Plump peas, sweet peas,/ Lined-up-in-the-shell peas./ Peas to munch, peas to crunch,/ I want a feast of peas to lunch,” he sings while planting them. As they grow, so do Jiva’s measures of protection, from hoeing and watering to constructing a sugarcane scarecrow. Jiva and his friend Ruvji admire Jiva’s appetizing peas on harvest’s eve, but the next morning, they are gone! Perchance the work of rabbits, Ruvji offers. A rapid cycle of anticipation and disappointment repeats until the thief’s unavoidable unmasking and fairness restored through a feast: peas shelled and boiled, “steamed and simmered,” “fried and spiced.” Sheth spins a yarn about greed and forgiveness in well-paced, poetic narration accompanied by Ebbeler’s expressive acrylic illustrations. Ages 4–8. (Mar.)

Reviewed on 02/14/2020 | Details & Permalink

show more
Salma the Syrian Chef

Danny Ramadan, illus. by Anna Bron. Annick, $18.95 (40p) ISBN 978-1-77321-375-0

Salma and her mother live in an apartment at a Vancouver Welcome Center, a home vastly different from their native Syria, where Salma’s father still resides. When she thinks about him, “Salma’s heart aches like a tiny fire in her chest.” She notices, too, that her mother’s characteristic laughter has disappeared since their move. After some brainstorming, Salma decides to make her mother a favorite Syrian dish. With help from the Welcome Center’s community of refugees (a gay couple from Lebanon, people from Egypt, India, and Somalia), Salma translates a recipe, gathers ingredients, and—through some emotional trial and error—makes her mother a lovingly assembled foul shami that incites “a long, sweet laugh, like the echo of bells.” Bron’s angular illustrations, rendered in warm colors and patterns, depict the inclusive group, while Syrian-Canadian activist Ramadan writes with poetic immediacy about displacement, home, and family. Ages 4–7. (Mar.)

Reviewed on 02/14/2020 | Details & Permalink

show more
This Boy

Lauren Myracle. Walker Books US, $18.99 (288p) ISBN 978-1-5362-0605-0

Divided into four sections, each representing one high-school year, this coming-of-age novel chronicles teenage Paul Walden’s progression from naive freshman to senior navigating crisis and addiction. During the first three sections, he comes across as a stereotypical, if witty, privileged adolescent male whose small world revolves around girls, designer goods, and video games and rap music, interests he shares with his best friend, Roby Smalls. Paul’s problems are minor: his single mother is supportive, he has ready access to the porn and weed that he enjoys, and even when he betrays Roby by dating his crush, their rift is short-lived and easily resolved. It isn’t until senior year, when Paul experiences a personal tragedy, that he reckons with harsh realities about happenstance and fate, turning to a range of prescription drugs to escape his emotional pain. Myracle (Under the Moon) gives a frank depiction of Paul’s grief, rapid physical decline, and arduous journey to recovery that casts a new light on Paul’s previously carefree adolescence, offering a universality to the cautionary tale. Ages 14–up. Agent: Barry Goldblatt, Barry Goldblatt Literary. (Apr.)

Reviewed on 02/14/2020 | Details & Permalink

show more
Goodbye from Nowhere

Sara Zarr. Harper/Balzer + Bray, $18.99 (384p) ISBN 978-0-06-243468-5

High schooler Kyle Baker has always been close to his large extended family—he looks forward to their reunions at his grandparents’ Northern California farm and dreams of continuing the tradition with his girlfriend, Nadia. His ideas about family and tradition are shattered, however, when he finds out that his mother is having an affair. Kyle turns inward, ghosting Nadia and his baseball team; the only person he can confide in is his cousin Emily, but she lives miles away and has her own set of problems. Then Kyle gets another blow when he learns that his grandparents are going to sell their farm. In a story about broken dreams and unwanted change, Zarr (Gem & Dixie) skillfully conveys Kyle’s emotional journey as his narrow view of reality shifts and expands. Using a third-person narrative, she explores Kyle’s point of view while acknowledging other characters’ concerns, including aromantic Emily’s uncertainty about her sexuality, half-Mexican cousin Martie’s acute awareness of prejudice within the white family, and Kyle’s estranged older sister’s anger at their parents. A moving slice of realism, this book shows how a family crisis impacts many aspects of one boy’s life. Ages 14–up. Agent: Michael Bourret, Dystel, Goderich & Bourret. (Apr.)

Reviewed on 02/14/2020 | Details & Permalink

show more
X
Stay ahead with
Tip Sheet!
Free newsletter: the hottest new books, features and more
X
X
Email Address

Password

Log In Lost Password

Parts of this site are only available to paying PW subscribers. Subscribers: to set up your digital access click here.

To subscribe, click here.

PW “All Access” site license members have access to PW’s subscriber-only website content. Simply close and relaunch your preferred browser to log-in. To find out more about PW’s site license subscription options please email: pw@pubservice.com.

If you have questions or need assistance setting up your account please email pw@pubservice.com or call 1-800-278-2991 (U.S.) or 1-818-487-2069 (all other countries), Monday-Friday between 5am and 5pm Pacific time for assistance.

Not Registered? Click here.