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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GOLDILOCKS AND THE THREE BEARS

With the same delightfully irreverent spirit that he brought to his retelling of "Little Red Riding Hood" (1987), Marshall enlivens another favorite. Although completely retold with his usual pungent wit and contemporary touches ("I don't mind if I do," says Goldilocks, as she tries out porridge, chair, and bed), Marshall retains the stories well-loved pattern, including Goldilocks escaping through the window (whereupon Baby Bear inquires, "Who was that little girl?"). The illustrations are fraught with delicious humor and detail: books that are stacked everywhere around the rather cluttered house, including some used in lieu of a missing leg for Papa Bear's chair; comically exaggerated beds—much too high at the head and the foot; and Baby Bear's wonderfully messy room, which certainly brings the story into the 20th century. Like its predecessor, perfect for several uses, from picture-book hour to beginning reading.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1988

ISBN: 0140563660

Page Count: 36

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Oct. 26, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1988

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More gift book than storybook, this is a meaningful addition to nursery bookshelves

MAYBE

A young child explores the unlimited potential inherent in all humans.

“Have you ever wondered why you are here?” asks the second-person narration. There is no one like you. Maybe you’re here to make a difference with your uniqueness; maybe you will speak for those who can’t or use your gifts to shine a light into the darkness. The no-frills, unrhymed narrative encourages readers to follow their hearts and tap into their limitless potential to be anything and do anything. The precisely inked and colored artwork plays with perspective from the first double-page spread, in which the child contemplates a mountain (or maybe an iceberg) in their hands. Later, they stand on a ladder to place white spots on tall, red mushrooms. The oversized flora and fauna seem to symbolize the presumptively insurmountable, reinforcing the book’s message that anything is possible. This quiet read, with its sophisticated central question, encourages children to reach for their untapped potential while reminding them it won’t be easy—they will make messes and mistakes—but the magic within can help overcome falls and failures. It’s unlikely that members of the intended audience have begun to wonder about their life’s purpose, but this life-affirming mood piece has honorable intentions. The child, accompanied by an adorable piglet and sporting overalls and a bird-beaked cap made of leaves, presents white.

More gift book than storybook, this is a meaningful addition to nursery bookshelves . (Picture book. 2-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-946873-75-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Compendium

Review Posted Online: May 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2019

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