There are so many shape-recognition books that are so much better; this one should remain tangled.

Two- and three-dimensional shapes must problem-solve when several get stuck while at the playground.

“One day a little circle, just as happy as could be / got caught inside the jungle gym, and couldn’t wiggle free.” Several friends try to help her, either ineffectually or, worse, getting stuck themselves. As crowds gather, a line arrives, and she devises the perfect plan. With the help of a prism and a sphere, she sets up a lever and pops the shapes free. Miranda’s rhyming verses sometimes stumble. Comstock’s shape characters, with noodlelike arms and legs, mostly sport similar expressions of dismay or happiness. His depictions of the jungle gym fail to make it clear how the shapes are trapped; they look as though they could just slip out. Only two shapes are specifically gendered female in the text. Both are pink (at least one other pink shape is explicitly male); one has a bow atop her head, the other, who wears glasses, has eyelashes. The mix of 2- and 3-D shapes makes the audience tough to pin down. Some shapes will be mystifying to children still sorting them out: The word “ellipse” is used instead of “oval,” and in a scene where crowds gather, the text refers to “points” joining the throng; readers may not know what they are till they reach the ending shape gallery, which shows points as a group of dots.

There are so many shape-recognition books that are so much better; this one should remain tangled. (Picture book. 3-8)

Pub Date: June 25, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4814-9721-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Paula Wiseman/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: March 16, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2019


As ephemeral as a valentine.

Daywalt and Jeffers’ wandering crayons explore love.

Each double-page spread offers readers a vision of one of the anthropomorphic crayons on the left along with the statement “Love is [color].” The word love is represented by a small heart in the appropriate color. Opposite, childlike crayon drawings explain how that color represents love. So, readers learn, “love is green. / Because love is helpful.” The accompanying crayon drawing depicts two alligators, one holding a recycling bin and the other tossing a plastic cup into it, offering readers two ways of understanding green. Some statements are thought-provoking: “Love is white. / Because sometimes love is hard to see,” reaches beyond the immediate image of a cat’s yellow eyes, pink nose, and black mouth and whiskers, its white face and body indistinguishable from the paper it’s drawn on, to prompt real questions. “Love is brown. / Because sometimes love stinks,” on the other hand, depicted by a brown bear standing next to a brown, squiggly turd, may provoke giggles but is fundamentally a cheap laugh. Some of the color assignments have a distinctly arbitrary feel: Why is purple associated with the imagination and pink with silliness? Fans of The Day the Crayons Quit (2013) hoping for more clever, metaliterary fun will be disappointed by this rather syrupy read.

As ephemeral as a valentine. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Dec. 24, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5247-9268-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Penguin Workshop

Review Posted Online: Feb. 1, 2021


While this is a fairly bland treatment compared to Deborah Lee Rose and Carey Armstrong-Ellis’ The Twelve Days of...

Rabe follows a young girl through her first 12 days of kindergarten in this book based on the familiar Christmas carol.

The typical firsts of school are here: riding the bus, making friends, sliding on the playground slide, counting, sorting shapes, laughing at lunch, painting, singing, reading, running, jumping rope, and going on a field trip. While the days are given ordinal numbers, the song skips the cardinal numbers in the verses, and the rhythm is sometimes off: “On the second day of kindergarten / I thought it was so cool / making lots of friends / and riding the bus to my school!” The narrator is a white brunette who wears either a tunic or a dress each day, making her pretty easy to differentiate from her classmates, a nice mix in terms of race; two students even sport glasses. The children in the ink, paint, and collage digital spreads show a variety of emotions, but most are happy to be at school, and the surroundings will be familiar to those who have made an orientation visit to their own schools.

While this is a fairly bland treatment compared to Deborah Lee Rose and Carey Armstrong-Ellis’ The Twelve Days of Kindergarten (2003), it basically gets the job done. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: June 21, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-06-234834-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 3, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2016

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