Another lovely, if imperfect, book for the spring shelf

ABRACADABRA, IT'S SPRING!

Rhymes, magic words, and gatefolds celebrate the transformations of spring.

“Sunshine warms a patch of snow. / Hocus-pocus! // Where did it go?” A mother rabbit with four kits snuggled beside her looks out at a snowy clearing; with the opening of the gatefold, the kits have woken up, the snow in front of their den has largely melted, and green shoots stipple the brown earth. In the next tableau, one of the shoots becomes a crocus watched over by a smiling mole. Pussy willows emerge, leaves appear, birds build nests and lay eggs, and fruit trees bloom. While at times O’Brien needs to stretch for her magic words and phrases (“alizebu” is quite obscure, and the negative connotations of “mumbo jumbo” are unfortunate), her rhymes and scansion never falter. Gal choreographs the progression smoothly, taking readers from early spring to the lushness of summer. The only sequential misstep is in taking the book back to early spring in the penultimate tableau with the discarding of winter boots—children who’ve seen the advancing spring phenomena in the preceding pages will have mentally stowed theirs much earlier. Gal combines charcoal and digital collage for a beautifully smudgy look, and details charm: on close inspection, a fly’s transparent wing displays a paisley pattern. The final tableau features a multiethnic group of children playing among all the “bright new things.”

Another lovely, if imperfect, book for the spring shelf . (Picture book. 2-5)

Pub Date: Feb. 16, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4197-1891-5

Page Count: 24

Publisher: abramsappleseed

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2016

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Plotless and pointless, the book clearly exists only because its celebrity author wrote it.

YOUR BABY'S FIRST WORD WILL BE DADA

A succession of animal dads do their best to teach their young to say “Dada” in this picture-book vehicle for Fallon.

A grumpy bull says, “DADA!”; his calf moos back. A sad-looking ram insists, “DADA!”; his lamb baas back. A duck, a bee, a dog, a rabbit, a cat, a mouse, a donkey, a pig, a frog, a rooster, and a horse all fail similarly, spread by spread. A final two-spread sequence finds all of the animals arrayed across the pages, dads on the verso and children on the recto. All the text prior to this point has been either iterations of “Dada” or animal sounds in dialogue bubbles; here, narrative text states, “Now everybody get in line, let’s say it together one more time….” Upon the turn of the page, the animal dads gaze round-eyed as their young across the gutter all cry, “DADA!” (except the duckling, who says, “quack”). Ordóñez's illustrations have a bland, digital look, compositions hardly varying with the characters, although the pastel-colored backgrounds change. The punch line fails from a design standpoint, as the sudden, single-bubble chorus of “DADA” appears to be emanating from background features rather than the baby animals’ mouths (only some of which, on close inspection, appear to be open). It also fails to be funny.

Plotless and pointless, the book clearly exists only because its celebrity author wrote it. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: June 9, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-250-00934-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Review Posted Online: April 15, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2015

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There is no real story, but the moving parts are fun, and the illustrations are beautiful.

EGGS ARE EVERYWHERE

An interactive egg hunt with turning-wheel and lift-the-flap elements.

This board book begins by directing readers to find the hidden eggs. Each wheel—there are four in all set into the interior pages—has several different eggs on it, and turning it reveals an egg in a little die-cut window. Spinning it further hides the egg behind one of two lift-the-flap panels—two baskets, for example—and readers must guess behind which they’ll find the egg they have chosen to track. A diagram on the back provides instructions for use, likely more helpful to caregivers than to little ones. There is no narrative in this book; it’s simply page after page of different directives along the lines of “Guess which door!” As a result, the focus is really on manipulatives and the illustrations. Fortunately, Kirwan’s spring-themed artwork is gorgeous. The backdrop of each page is flower- and leaf-themed with warm spring hues, echoing the artwork of Eastern European hand-stenciled Easter eggs, two of which appear at the end of the book. The animals, like the smiling snail and mischievous mice, are reminiscent of classic European fairy-tale creatures. The only human in the book is a dark-skinned child with tight, curly hair. The moveable pieces largely work, though at times the necessary white space under the flaps interrupts the illustration awkwardly, as when the child’s hands suddenly develop large oval holes if the spinner is not in the correct position. Overall, it’s more game than book.

There is no real story, but the moving parts are fun, and the illustrations are beautiful. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4521-7457-0

Page Count: 10

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 18, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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