A buoyant welcome to the season

READ REVIEW

HOCUS POCUS, IT'S FALL!

Using the same pattern and format as their Abracadabra, It’s Spring! (2016), O’Brien and Gal return to celebrate autumn.

“Summer days begin to cool. / Alakazam! // It’s time for school.” Two children, a brown child with fabulous, kinky hair and a white child with red pigtails, carry inner tubes up from the dock and wave to a younger white child sitting on a swing under a tree with leaves turning to red; when the gatefold’s opened, both are lined up to board the school bus along with other kids, including a brown child in a wheelchair. Milkweed pods dry and burst; Canada geese begin their migration; green leaves turn brilliant scarlet and then fall to the ground; squirrels gather nuts while children gather apples and pumpkins; chipmunks curl up in their burrows while children put on their hats and sweaters. The whole joyous celebration culminates in a hayride with the happy group of multiracial children seen on previous pages all piled in. As in the previous book, O’Brien’s rhymes and rhythms stick every landing; also as in the previous book, it stutters sequentially at one point, returning readers to a mostly green landscape after showing several images dominated by rusts and ochers. Gal’s smudgy illustrations, a technology-spanning combination of charcoal on paper and digital collage, glory in the golds, crimsons, and russets of fall, adding contrasting blues and greens for extra pop.

A buoyant welcome to the season . (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Aug. 16, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4197-2125-0

Page Count: 24

Publisher: abramsappleseed

Review Posted Online: June 1, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 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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It’s a bit hard to dance, or count, to this beat.

ONE MORE DINO ON THE FLOOR

Dinos that love to move and groove get children counting from one to 10—and perhaps moving to the beat.

Beginning with a solo bop by a female dino (she has eyelashes, doncha know), the dinosaur dance party begins. Each turn of the page adds another dino and a change in the dance genre: waltz, country line dancing, disco, limbo, square dancing, hip-hop, and swing. As the party would be incomplete without the moonwalk, the T. Rex does the honors…and once they are beyond their initial panic at his appearance, the onlookers cheer wildly. The repeated refrain on each spread allows for audience participation, though it doesn’t easily trip off the tongue: “They hear a swish. / What’s this? / One more? / One more dino on the floor.” Some of the prehistoric beasts are easily identifiable—pterodactyl, ankylosaurus, triceratops—but others will be known only to the dino-obsessed; none are identified, other than T-Rex. Packed spreads filled with psychedelically colored dinos sporting blocks of color, stripes, or polka dots (and infectious looks of joy) make identification even more difficult, to say nothing of counting them. Indeed, this fails as a counting primer: there are extra animals (and sometimes a grumpy T-Rex) in the backgrounds, and the next dino to join the party pokes its head into the frame on the page before. Besides all that, most kids won’t get the dance references.

It’s a bit hard to dance, or count, to this beat. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: March 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-8075-1598-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Whitman

Review Posted Online: Jan. 20, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2016

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