Review of Hey, Water!

Hey, Water!
by Antoinette Portis; illus. by the author
Preschool, Primary    Porter/Holiday    48 pp.    g
3/19    978-0-8234-4155-6    $17.99
e-book ed.  978-0-8234-4201-0    $17.99

A girl named Zoe explores water in this playful and informative book. Speaking directly to water (“Hey, water! I know you! You’re all around”), Zoe considers the role of water inside a home (shower, faucet) and outside of it (sprinkler, hose). Spread by spread, the book’s scope widens as the girl points out ever-larger bodies of water — from a stream to a river to an ocean. The scope then shrinks back again to a lake, pool, puddle, and dewdrop. Zoe also considers the different forms water can take (identified in the back matter as liquid, solid, and gas), using examples such as the steam of a teakettle, a cloud, an ice cube, and more; throughout, each item is accompanied by an unobtrusive label in a larger block font to help clarify the information. Portis’s main text is spare and accessible, with occasional, effective use of figurative language: dewdrops that wink, water that freezes “soft as a feather,” snowflakes that are “fancier than lace.” The many permutations of water (not the book’s protagonist) are the focus of the crisp, uncluttered, primarily aqua-colored illustrations; when we do see Zoe, she’s delighting in water. “Hey, water, thank you!” she says on the final page while playing in the bathtub. The story’s ending segues easily to back matter that includes notes on conservation and water forms and a simple diagram of the water cycle.

From the March/April 2019 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.
Julie Danielson
Julie Danielson
Julie Danielson writes about picture books at the blog Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast. She also writes for Kirkus Reviews and BookPage and is a lecturer for the School of Information Sciences graduate program at the University of Tennessee. Her book Wild Things!: Acts of Mischief in Children’s Literature, written with Betsy Bird and Peter D. Sieruta, was published in 2014.

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