Lacking bounce and any real originality, this big bear falls flat on the ice.

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ONE VERY BIG BEAR

A counting book finds “ONE white bear” facing off against an increasing number of different creatures in a contest of size.

With so many creative and interesting counting books available, a new endeavor in this genre must work hard to stand out from the crowd. This French import seems to run out of steam before it has barely begun. The illustrations are flat, two-color monoprints with stylized, hard-to-distinguish animal shapes. A large white bear stands glumly on an ice floe. “I’m very big!” he announces. “I’m almost a giant!” Two walruses swim up, challenging his size by standing one atop the other. This joke is repeated with three foxes (unlikely residents of an ice floe!), four sea lions, five penguins (even more unlikely, assuming the ice floe is in the Arctic), and six sardines, the last of which unsurprisingly are consumed by the bear on the last page. The goal is apparently to teach very simple addition: each vertical pile of animals is notated as an arithmetical equation, such as ONE + ONE + ONE, but the exercise abruptly concludes at six, not even bothering to get to 10. Numerical notation is not used, and this half-hearted, didactic attempt risks confusion rather than enlightenment.

Lacking bounce and any real originality, this big bear falls flat on the ice. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Oct. 4, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4197-2117-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: abramsappleseed

Review Posted Online: July 20, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2016

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Plotless and pointless, the book clearly exists only because its celebrity author wrote it.

YOUR BABY'S FIRST WORD WILL BE DADA

A succession of animal dads do their best to teach their young to say “Dada” in this picture-book vehicle for Fallon.

A grumpy bull says, “DADA!”; his calf moos back. A sad-looking ram insists, “DADA!”; his lamb baas back. A duck, a bee, a dog, a rabbit, a cat, a mouse, a donkey, a pig, a frog, a rooster, and a horse all fail similarly, spread by spread. A final two-spread sequence finds all of the animals arrayed across the pages, dads on the verso and children on the recto. All the text prior to this point has been either iterations of “Dada” or animal sounds in dialogue bubbles; here, narrative text states, “Now everybody get in line, let’s say it together one more time….” Upon the turn of the page, the animal dads gaze round-eyed as their young across the gutter all cry, “DADA!” (except the duckling, who says, “quack”). Ordóñez's illustrations have a bland, digital look, compositions hardly varying with the characters, although the pastel-colored backgrounds change. The punch line fails from a design standpoint, as the sudden, single-bubble chorus of “DADA” appears to be emanating from background features rather than the baby animals’ mouths (only some of which, on close inspection, appear to be open). It also fails to be funny.

Plotless and pointless, the book clearly exists only because its celebrity author wrote it. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: June 9, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-250-00934-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Review Posted Online: April 15, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2015

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Should be packaged with an oxygen supply, as it will incontestably elicit uncontrollable gales of giggles.

THE DINKY DONKEY

Even more alliterative hanky-panky from the creators of The Wonky Donkey (2010).

Operating on the principle (valid, here) that anything worth doing is worth overdoing, Smith and Cowley give their wildly popular Wonky Donkey a daughter—who, being “cute and small,” was a “dinky donkey”; having “beautiful long eyelashes” she was in consequence a “blinky dinky donkey”; and so on…and on…and on until the cumulative chorus sails past silly and ludicrous to irresistibly hysterical: “She was a stinky funky plinky-plonky winky-tinky,” etc. The repeating “Hee Haw!” chorus hardly suggests what any audience’s escalating response will be. In the illustrations the daughter sports her parent’s big, shiny eyes and winsome grin while posing in a multicolored mohawk next to a rustic boombox (“She was a punky blinky”), painting her hooves pink, crossing her rear legs to signal a need to pee (“winky-tinky inky-pinky”), demonstrating her smelliness with the help of a histrionic hummingbird, and finally cozying up to her proud, evidently single parent (there’s no sign of another) for a closing cuddle.

Should be packaged with an oxygen supply, as it will incontestably elicit uncontrollable gales of giggles. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-60083-4

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

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