A buoyant welcome to the season

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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For patient listeners, a fun visit to a mixed-up barnyard.

THE WIND PLAYS TRICKS

When a fierce wind descends on the barnyard, the animals hear some odd noises…and they’re coming from their own mouths.

The sudden wind unsettles all the animals on the farm just when they should be getting ready for sleep. Instead, they anxiously “cheep” and “cluck” and “oink” and “quack” and “moooo.” They shift nervously, pull together, and make all sorts of noises. All except Turtle, who tucks into his shell under an old log and sleeps. In the morning, though, the animals get a surprise. Pig says, “Cluck”; the Little Chicks say, “Neigh”; Horse crows, “Cock-a-doodle-doo.” How will they get their proper sounds back? Turtle has an idea, and he enjoys the process so much that he decides to open his mouth the next time the wind plays tricks at the farm: Perhaps he’ll catch a sound all his own. Chua’s cartoon barnyard is bright, and her animals, expressive, their faces and body language slightly anthropomorphized. The edges of the figures sometimes betray their digital origins. Though the tale is humorous and will give lots of opportunity for practicing animal sounds, the audience is hard to pin down, as the young children sure to enjoy mooing and clucking may not have the patience to sit through the somewhat lengthy text.

For patient listeners, a fun visit to a mixed-up barnyard. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: March 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-8075-8735-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Whitman

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2019

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Another snowy day book, but not special enough to recall Keats’ masterpiece.

WINTER IS FOR SNOW

A paean to wintertime and especially its snowy weather, this picture book fails to match the achievement of the many others that deal with this popular theme.

The child pictured in the jacket art is an unabashed lover of all things winter, and in rhyming text, he extols the season’s virtues to his curmudgeonly younger sister. Her responses (also rhyming) resist his enthusiastic praise of snowball fights, skating and the beauty of snowflakes “glittering like diamond dust.” Since the book ends up being about her eventual, grudging warming up to wintertime, it’s curious that she doesn’t appear on the cover, and her change of heart seems rather abrupt, reading; “Winter is for all these things? / Is it really so? / Winter might not be so bad. // Winter is for SNOW!” Such pat lines are par for the course in the text, which isn’t so much a story as it is a list. Illustrations show greater achievement, particularly in scenes depicting many characters milling about a snowy city landscape, evoking an animationlike flair.

Another snowy day book, but not special enough to recall Keats’ masterpiece. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Oct. 29, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-4231-7831-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Aug. 14, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2013

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