Alphabet books are plentiful, but this charmer is a standout.

WHAT IF ANTS WORE ORANGE PANTS?

Clever rhyming couplets and soft pastel illustrations make for an amusing alphabet book in author/illustrator Strauss’ picture book debut.

Without bothering with the “A is for...” structure, Strauss launches into a silly poem about dancing ants to introduce the letter A. The next page is graced by a polka-dot butterfly, drawn, it appears, in a combination of paint and stamp art. Each poem scans well, varying rhyme schemes and rhythm structure. Many of the choices are general and familiar, such as eagles for E and lion for L. Others are unusual: mongoose, veery (a songbird), xyphosura (horseshoe crab). Several illustrations are realistic, with lovely detail (especially the frog’s bog); others are more fancifully rendered: Both the calico cat and the donkey look more like stuffed animals, with textile-inspired patterns on their coats. The images are intriguing and done in a mix of styles that look painted or sketched and filled in with colored pencils. The page layouts place the text into the pictures with a large border around each page featuring a letter. Full of interesting vocabulary words (“paisley,” “sedentary”), older readers will find some challenge, while lap readers will enjoy the rhymes.

Alphabet books are plentiful, but this charmer is a standout.

Pub Date: Jan. 2, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-64138-170-3

Page Count: 34

Publisher: Page Publishing, Inc.

Review Posted Online: Sept. 25, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2018

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Playful, engaging, and full of opportunities for empathy—a raucous storytime hit.

THERE'S A MONSTER IN YOUR BOOK

From the Who's in Your Book? series

Readers try to dislodge a monster from the pages of this emotive and interactive read-aloud.

“OH NO!” the story starts. “There’s a monster in your book!” The blue, round-headed monster with pink horns and a pink-tipped tail can be seen cheerfully munching on the opening page. “Let’s try to get him out,” declares the narrator. Readers are encouraged to shake, tilt, and spin the book around, while the monster careens around an empty background looking scared and lost. Viewers are exhorted to tickle the monster’s feet, blow on the page, and make a really loud noise. Finally, shockingly, it works: “Now he’s in your room!” But clearly a monster in your book is safer than a monster in your room, so he’s coaxed back into the illustrations and lulled to sleep, curled up under one page and cuddling a bit of another like a child with their blankie. The monster’s entirely cute appearance and clear emotional reactions to his treatment add to the interactive aspect, and some young readers might even resist the instructions to avoid hurting their new pal. Children will be brought along on the monster’s journey, going from excited, noisy, and wiggly to calm and steady (one can hope).

Playful, engaging, and full of opportunities for empathy—a raucous storytime hit. (Picture book. 2-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-5247-6456-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: June 5, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2017

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A rollicking tale of rivalry.

IT HAPPENED ON SWEET STREET

Sweet Street had just one baker, Monsieur Oliphant, until two new confectionists move in, bringing a sugar rush of competition and customers.

First comes “Cookie Concocter par excellence” Mademoiselle Fee and then a pie maker, who opens “the divine Patisserie Clotilde!” With each new arrival to Sweet Street, rivalries mount and lines of hungry treat lovers lengthen. Children will delight in thinking about an abundance of gingerbread cookies, teetering, towering cakes, and blackbird pies. Wonderfully eccentric line-and-watercolor illustrations (with whites and marbled pastels like frosting) appeal too. Fine linework lends specificity to an off-kilter world in which buildings tilt at wacky angles and odd-looking (exclusively pale) people walk about, their pantaloons, ruffles, long torsos, and twiglike arms, legs, and fingers distinguishing them as wonderfully idiosyncratic. Rotund Monsieur Oliphant’s periwinkle complexion, flapping ears, and elongated nose make him look remarkably like an elephant while the women confectionists appear clownlike, with exaggerated lips, extravagantly lashed eyes, and voluminous clothes. French idioms surface intermittently, adding a certain je ne sais quoi. Embedded rhymes contribute to a bouncing, playful narrative too: “He layered them and cherried them and married people on them.” Tension builds as the cul de sac grows more congested with sweet-makers, competition, frustration, and customers. When the inevitable, fantastically messy food fight occurs, an observant child finds a sweet solution amid the delicious detritus.

A rollicking tale of rivalry. (Picture book. 4-8 )

Pub Date: July 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-101-91885-2

Page Count: 44

Publisher: Tundra Books

Review Posted Online: April 8, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2020

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