Slow down and look! (Picture book. 3-6)

READ REVIEW

UNDERCOVER

ONE OF THESE THINGS IS ALMOST LIKE THE OTHERS

A picture-book invitation to look carefully and observe.

While some readers may be familiar with the Sesame Street song “One of these things is not like the others,” this French import’s subtitle first invites consideration of the similarities among objects before determining which one is “undercover.” The cover image showing a turtle among a group of hats highlights the limited color palette of brown, bright pink, and green against a white background. The forms are bold stenciled shapes and colors, and the turtle is about the same size as the hats. The turtle’s shell upon its body visually evokes the idea of a hat resting upon someone’s head, and yet it is a living creature, while the hats are articles of clothing. The solitary snail on the title page suggests a slowness that will reward careful looking. Ensuing juxtapositions depict similarities in form, size, color, and sometimes function or other times biological classification from one spread to the next, with, usually, four images in three straight rows on each double-page spread. One spread depicting structures may give some readers pause, as it includes such structures as a tepee, an office building, a factory with smokestacks, an igloo, and a simple cape-style house. These aren’t all dwellings, nor are they all permanent structures, and the “undercover” item is a confusingly indeterminate two-tiered object with a flame (or is it a cherry?) on top.

Slow down and look! (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 12, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-7148-7250-6

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Phaidon

Review Posted Online: July 26, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 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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A welcome addition to autumnal storytelling—and to tales of traditional enemies overcoming their history.

THE SCARECROW

Ferry and the Fans portray a popular seasonal character’s unlikely friendship.

Initially, the protagonist is shown in his solitary world: “Scarecrow stands alone and scares / the fox and deer, / the mice and crows. / It’s all he does. It’s all he knows.” His presence is effective; the animals stay outside the fenced-in fields, but the omniscient narrator laments the character’s lack of friends or places to go. Everything changes when a baby crow falls nearby. Breaking his pole so he can bend, the scarecrow picks it up, placing the creature in the bib of his overalls while singing a lullaby. Both abandon natural tendencies until the crow learns to fly—and thus departs. The aabb rhyme scheme flows reasonably well, propelling the narrative through fall, winter, and spring, when the mature crow returns with a mate to build a nest in the overalls bib that once was his home. The Fan brothers capture the emotional tenor of the seasons and the main character in their panoramic pencil, ballpoint, and digital compositions. Particularly poignant is the close-up of the scarecrow’s burlap face, his stitched mouth and leaf-rimmed head conveying such sadness after his companion goes. Some adults may wonder why the scarecrow seems to have only partial agency, but children will be tuned into the problem, gratified by the resolution.

A welcome addition to autumnal storytelling—and to tales of traditional enemies overcoming their history. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-247576-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2019

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