Inventive paper engineering adds extra oomph to this brouhaha under the big top.



A pop-up circus act featuring, luckily, “the world’s strongest cat.”

It all begins with “Miss Prune! In her lovely costume, / she has biceps like moons”—and that’s a good thing, because she is tasked with balancing an immense tower of acrobats, 10 in all, that rises in sections as each of five accordion-folded pop-ups opens up. But sacré bleu! No sooner have Kevin and Kelvin, the ninth and 10th performers, vaulted to the top than an unexpected feline addition—“Ginger! No! NO!”—heralds a catastrophic 3-D whirl of tumbling, airborne acrobats and props. Is all lost? Fear not: One further, last page turn, and there stands the cat…holding up all the acrobats, their arms and legs flung wide. Bravo! A round of applause for the Acrobat Family and Ginger the Red! Vaguely tent shaped, being formatted with beveled edges running up to a tall, sharp peak, the volume may be a challenge to shelve…but it’s not likely to stay on the shelf for long. The stylized, uniformly orange-skinned daredevils, variously decked out in bright costumes as well as bowl cuts, braids, tight curls, and other individualizing features, present as nonspecific people of color.

Inventive paper engineering adds extra oomph to this brouhaha under the big top. (Pop-up picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Nov. 26, 2019

ISBN: 978-3-89955-835-7

Page Count: 18

Publisher: Little Gestalten

Review Posted Online: Oct. 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2019

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Laugh-out-loud fun for all.

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Hilarious complications ensue when Nanette’s mom gives her the responsibility of buying the family baguette.

She sets out on her errand and encounters lots of distractions along the way as she meets and greets Georgette, Suzette, Bret with his clarinet, Mr. Barnett and his pet, Antoinette. But she remembers her mission and buys the baguette from Juliette the baker. And oh, it is a wonderful large, warm, aromatic hunk of bread, so Nanette takes a taste and another and more—until there is nothing left. Maybe she needs to take a jet to Tibet. But she faces her mother and finds understanding, tenderness, and a surprise twist. Willems is at his outlandish best with line after line of “ettes” and their absurd rhymes, all the while demonstrating a deep knowledge of children’s thought processes. Nanette and the entire cast of characters are bright green frogs with very large round eyes, heavily outlined in black and clad in eccentric clothing and hats. A highly detailed village constructed of cardboard forms the background for Nanette’s adventures. Her every emotion explodes all over the pages in wildly expressive, colorful vignettes and an eye-popping use of emphatic display type. The endpapers follow the fate of the baguette from fresh and whole to chewed and gone. Demands for encores will surely follow.

Laugh-out-loud fun for all. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Oct. 25, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4847-2286-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Aug. 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2016

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For places where the first-grade shelves are particularly thin.


The traditional song “The Twelve Days of Christmas” gets a school makeover as readers follow a cheery narrator through the first 12 days of first grade.

“On the first day of first grade / I had fun right away // laughing and learning all day!” In these first two spreads, Jennings shows the child, who has brown skin and a cloud of dark-brown hair, entering the schoolyard with a diverse array of classmates and settling in. In the backgrounds, caregivers, including a woman in hijab, stand at the fence and kids hang things on hooks in the back of the room. Each new day sees the child and their friends enjoying new things, previous days’ activities repeated in the verses each time so that those listening will soon be chiming in. The child helps in the classroom, checks out books from the library, plants seeds, practices telling time and counting money, leads the line, performs in a play, shows off a picture of their pet bunny, and does activities in gym, music, and art classes. The Photoshop-and-watercolor illustrations portray adorable and engaged kids having fun while learning with friends. But while the song and topic are the same, this doesn’t come close to touching either the hysterical visuals or great rhythm of Deborah Lee Rose and Carey Armstong-Ellis’ The Twelve Days of Kindergarten (2003).

For places where the first-grade shelves are particularly thin. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: June 19, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-266851-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2018

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