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From the Etchart series

Unsuitable for school or public library shelves but giftworthy starter kits for budding Braques and preschool Pollocks.

Nine prepared scratchboards packaged with a wooden stylus offer invitations to reveal a thematic set of artist’s scenes or, with selective scraping, add customized shapes and patterns to each.

Beneath a layer of removable black into which the outlines of hummingbirds, orchids, leopards, and other jungle flora and fauna are drawn as guidelines, Mirtalipova’s stylized pictures shimmer with pattern and color—which children can see for themselves by mechanically removing the entire layer or, if they so choose, alter (in limited ways) by scraping lines, spots, or stripes of their own. The pencil-shaped stylus, pointed at one end and chisel-ended at the other, comes in a reusable plastic cradle and definitely merits the cautionary hazard notices on the front and back covers. Like the co-published Enchanted Garden (and the other entries in this series), opposite each picture is a set of instructions that mix visual and verbal hints (some in rhyme: “What else is there for you to see? / A lizard climbing up the tree…”) that are capped at the end with an invitation to regard the illustrations as “your own work of art.” Fair enough, though they are really more like cooperative ventures.

Unsuitable for school or public library shelves but giftworthy starter kits for budding Braques and preschool Pollocks. (Novelty. 4-8)

Pub Date: July 5, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-78603-141-9

Page Count: 20

Publisher: Wide Eyed Editions

Review Posted Online: June 10, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2018

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From the Find Momo series , Vol. 7

A well-meaning but lackluster tribute.

Readers bid farewell to a beloved canine character.

Momo is—or was—an adorable and very photogenic border collie owned by author Knapp. The many readers who loved him in the previous half-dozen books are in for a shock with this one. “Momo had died” is the stark reality—and there are no photographs of him here. Instead, Momo has been replaced by a flat cartoonish pastiche with strange, staring round white eyes, inserted into some of Knapp’s photography (which remains appealing, insofar as it can be discerned under the mixed media). Previous books contained few or no words. Unfortunately, virtuosity behind a lens does not guarantee mastery of verse. The art here is accompanied by words that sometimes rhyme but never find a workable or predictable rhythm (“We’d fetch and we’d catch, / we’d run and we’d jump. Every day we found new / games to play”). It’s a pity, because the subject—a pet’s death—is an important one to address with children. Of course, Momo isn’t gone; he can still be found “everywhere” in memories. But alas, he can be found here only in the crude depictions of the darling dog so well known from the earlier books.

A well-meaning but lackluster tribute. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 6, 2024

ISBN: 9781683693864

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Quirk Books

Review Posted Online: Nov. 4, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2023

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From the What if You Had . . .? series

Another playful imagination-stretcher.

Markle invites children to picture themselves living in the homes of 11 wild animals.

As in previous entries in the series, McWilliam’s illustrations of a diverse cast of young people fancifully imitating wild creatures are paired with close-up photos of each animal in a like natural setting. The left side of one spread includes a photo of a black bear nestling in a cozy winter den, while the right side features an image of a human one cuddled up with a bear. On another spread, opposite a photo of honeybees tending to newly hatched offspring, a human “larva” lounges at ease in a honeycomb cell, game controller in hand, as insect attendants dish up goodies. A child with an eye patch reclines on an orb weaver spider’s web, while another wearing a head scarf constructs a castle in a subterranean chamber with help from mound-building termites. Markle adds simple remarks about each type of den, nest, or burrow and basic facts about its typical residents, then closes with a reassuring reminder to readers that they don’t have to live as animals do, because they will “always live where people live.” A select gallery of traditional homes, from igloo and yurt to mudhif, follows a final view of the young cast waving from a variety of differently styled windows.

Another playful imagination-stretcher. (Informational picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: May 7, 2024

ISBN: 9781339049052

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Feb. 3, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2024

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