Youngsters learning to cope with eating utensils of any sort will appreciate Maggie’s efforts and urge her on to success.

MAGGIE'S CHOPSTICKS

Learning to use something new is never easy.

Young Maggie has a new set of chopsticks, but everyone says she is using them incorrectly. Evocative and appealing digitally enhanced  watercolors show how Grandmother, Mother, Brother and Sister eat with their chopsticks (shoveling, popping, plucking and dancing, respectively), but Maggie can’t seem to follow any of their examples. The Kitchen God has nothing helpful to say, and Maggie’s private practicing doesn’t help her either; it’s not until Father offers praise and comforting words about individuality that Maggie finds her own style, “like a butterfly emerging / from a long winter’s sleep.” Though something seems lost here—it is difficult to see whether the setting is China or elsewhere, whether using chopsticks with style is a cultural phenomenon or based on Maggie’s own observations, and whether Maggie improves through practice, simply accepts herself or both—the story is well-intentioned, the character plucky and hardworking, and the illustrations warm and striking.

Youngsters learning to cope with eating utensils of any sort will appreciate Maggie’s efforts and urge her on to success. (Picture book.3-5)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-55453-619-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Kids Can

Review Posted Online: June 20, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2012

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MOTHER GOOSE PICTURE PUZZLES

Hillenbrand introduces the idea of rebuses to newly emergent readers with a gathering of likely-to-be-familiar Mother Goose rhymes—from “Hey diddle, diddle, / the [cat] and the [fiddle]” to “Twinkle, twinkle, little [star].” To make the translations ultra-easy, he provides literal visual interpretations for each rhyme in good-humored cartoon scenes featuring smiling people or animals, generally in country dress and settings. (He moderates verisimilitude for the audience appropriately: Jill’s fallen male companion and Humpty Dumpty are unhappy after their accidents but plainly not grievously injured.) He even labels the relevant figures, all of whom or which are larger versions of the rebuses: “cake,” “baker’s man” and “baby,” for instance, or “hill,” “pail,” “water” and “crown (another word for top of head).” As a technique for promoting visual and verbal literacy at once this game has a good track record, and young audiences put off by the crudely illustrated likes of Blanche Fisher Wright’s Real Mother Goose Picture Word Rhymes (1916, 1987) or the much older Mother Goose in Hieroglyphics (1849, 1973) will both enjoy and benefit from this shorter but more child-friendly outing. (Nursery rhymes. 3-5)

Pub Date: March 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-7614-5808-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Marshall Cavendish

Review Posted Online: Jan. 26, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2011

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A decidedly mixed bag of ideas that does not quite come together.

THIS IS NOT A BOOK

This unusual board book is a visual ode to both the rectangular and things that open and close.

In these nearly wordless pages, Jullien presents the gaping mouth of a monster, an aerial view of a tennis court, and the keyboard of a piano, to name a few, in droll cartoons employing thick, black lines. The ideas here range from the clever (the image of a youngster reading inside a tent encourages readers to stand up the book as if it were a tent) to the everyday and banal (the inside of a toolbox), often encouraging youngsters to change the orientation of the book. Very young children, who are the core board-book readers, may appreciate the items that are the most identifiable, particularly the open refrigerator and butterfly. The open laptop, complete with keyboard, may prove a dated reference to tablet-wielding toddlers. A double gatefold (the only one) opens up to a kid reading a book titled This Is a Book, but there is no setup for this revelation. The page turn that reveals white buttocks (with the crack running down the gutter) will prompt a few giggles once it’s parsed. While Jullien’s art is delightful, it is a shame he couldn’t diversify the subjects in these scenes; few, if any, of the people depicted are people of color.

A decidedly mixed bag of ideas that does not quite come together. (Board book. 3-5)

Pub Date: March 28, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-7148-7112-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Phaidon

Review Posted Online: April 13, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2016

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