Top-drawer, absurd entertainment from two English masters of the droll. Bert is a victim—of the fates, of misunderstandings, of his two left feet—but he is also an agent of good, a man of pluck, ever an optimist. Bert’s a force, no matter how ridiculous. First readers greet Bert, then his wife, then his baby: “Meet Baby Bert. Don’t say hallo to him. He is fast asleep. Shh! Turn the page . . . quietly. WAAAAA! Oh no! Now look what you’ve done.” Then Bert has the first of his adventures, in a shirt that gets stuck on his head, making him fall down the stairs and out into the street and onto the bed of a truck that takes him to Scotland. He hitchhikes home in the rain. Forty-seven words in total and some of the broadest humor one could ever hope for, not to mention the color-pencil artwork that practically has readers falling down the stairs right along with Bert. The second adventure finds Bert being chased by a giant sausage and running smack into a lamppost (“Bert bangs his nose”) before he discovers it is only a man in a sausage suit, selling sausages. The last adventure has Bert diving into a river to save a barking box. (Bert, of course, can’t swim.) This is brilliant stuff: simple tales that unleash great ponderings, like Bert’s role in the universe. He could—believe it—be a savior of a sort. Bring us more Bert, please. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Aug. 28, 2001

ISBN: 0-374-30092-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2001

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A pleasing poem that celebrates babies around the world. Whether from a remote village or an urban dwelling, a tent or the snow, Fox notes that each “of these babies, / as everyone knows, / had ten little fingers / and ten little toes.” Repeated in each stanza, the verse establishes an easy rhythm. Oxenbury’s charming illustrations depict infants from a variety of ethnicities wearing clothing that invokes a sense of place. Her pencil drawings, with clean watercolor washes laid in, are sweetly similar to those in her early board books (Clap Hands, 1987, etc.). Each stanza introduces a new pair of babies, and the illustrations cleverly incorporate the children from the previous stanzas onto one page, allowing readers to count not only fingers and toes but also babies. The last stanza switches its focus from two children to one “sweet little child,” and reveals the narrator as that baby’s mother. Little readers will take to the repetition and counting, while parents will be moved by the last spread: a sweet depiction of mother and baby. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2008

ISBN: 978-0-15-206057-2

Page Count: 34

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2008

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Pair this with Leo Timmers’ Who Is Driving? (2007) for twice the guessing fun.


From the Clothesline Clues series

Heling and Hembrook’s clever conceit challenges children to analyze a small town’s clotheslines to guess the job each of their owners does. 

Close-up on the clothesline: “Uniform and cap, / an invite for you. / Big bag of letters. / What job does she do?” A turn of the page reveals a macro view of the home, van and the woman doing her job, “She is a mail carrier.” Indeed, she can be spotted throughout the book delivering invitations to all the rest of the characters, who gather at the end for a “Launch Party.” The verses’ rhymes are spot-on, though the rhythm falters a couple of times. The authors nicely mix up the gender stereotypes often associated with several of these occupations, making the carpenter, firefighter and astronaut women. But while Davies keeps uniforms and props pretty neutral (he even avoids U.S. mail symbols), he keeps to the stereotypes that allow young readers to easily identify occupations—the farmer chews on a stalk of wheat; the beret-wearing artist sports a curly mustache. A subdued palette and plain white backgrounds keep kids’ focus on the clothing clues. Still, there are plenty of details to absorb—the cat with arched back that anticipates a spray of water, the firefighter who “lights” the rocket.

Pair this with Leo Timmers’ Who Is Driving? (2007) for twice the guessing fun. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: July 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-58089-251-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Charlesbridge

Review Posted Online: May 16, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2012

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