A good idea philosophically and artistically—but tanked by weak execution.

THINGS THAT GO AWAY

An exploration of things that are temporary.

“In life, / many things go away. / They transform, / they pass by.” Each double-page spread holds a special sheet, attached in the gutter, that’s halfway between transparent and translucent. This sheet overlays first the right-hand page, then the left; it features black markings (different on every spread) that shift meaning as it turns. In one fine example, to demonstrate that “sleep always departs,” heavily drawn, closed eyelids move from overlaying a child’s face to a stuffed animal’s. Unfortunately, many spreads are less successful. All the primary illustrations pale significantly when viewed through the middle sheet while the sheet’s black drawings are particularly bold; consequently, flipping the sheet leftward often fails to hide or repurpose the black marks. Musical notes seemingly meant to disappear into a plant (“Music flies away”) are so dark—and the underlying illustration so paled by the flip-over sheet—that the notes don’t visually integrate into the plant but hover nonsensically. Tears drop from a child’s eyes, but instead of blending into a cat’s fur when the sheet flips, they sit confusingly overlaid on the cat. The conceit’s weak implementation leaves little room for attention to Alemagna’s heavy oil paintings with faces styled like children’s art, nor to the otherwise lovely catalog of things that are (or can be) fleeting: injury, bubbles, bad moods, hair placement, steam from a teacup.

A good idea philosophically and artistically—but tanked by weak execution. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 24, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4197-4482-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: Nov. 10, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2019

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As ephemeral as a valentine.

LOVE FROM THE CRAYONS

Daywalt and Jeffers’ wandering crayons explore love.

Each double-page spread offers readers a vision of one of the anthropomorphic crayons on the left along with the statement “Love is [color].” The word love is represented by a small heart in the appropriate color. Opposite, childlike crayon drawings explain how that color represents love. So, readers learn, “love is green. / Because love is helpful.” The accompanying crayon drawing depicts two alligators, one holding a recycling bin and the other tossing a plastic cup into it, offering readers two ways of understanding green. Some statements are thought-provoking: “Love is white. / Because sometimes love is hard to see,” reaches beyond the immediate image of a cat’s yellow eyes, pink nose, and black mouth and whiskers, its white face and body indistinguishable from the paper it’s drawn on, to prompt real questions. “Love is brown. / Because sometimes love stinks,” on the other hand, depicted by a brown bear standing next to a brown, squiggly turd, may provoke giggles but is fundamentally a cheap laugh. Some of the color assignments have a distinctly arbitrary feel: Why is purple associated with the imagination and pink with silliness? Fans of The Day the Crayons Quit (2013) hoping for more clever, metaliterary fun will be disappointed by this rather syrupy read.

As ephemeral as a valentine. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Dec. 24, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5247-9268-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Penguin Workshop

Review Posted Online: Feb. 2, 2021

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Slight and contrived.

LITTLE TACO TRUCK

A little orange food truck parks in the same place every day, bringing tacos to hungry construction workers—till one morning, a falafel truck takes his spot.

Miss Falafel then brings by more of her friends, crowding out the taco truck. Little Taco Truck whines and cries, but after four days of being shut out by the bigger trucks, he finally takes the initiative. He spends the night in his former parking space, defending his territory when the other trucks arrive. The rest immediately apologize, and after some creative maneuvering, everyone fits—even the newly arrived noodle truck. Valentine’s naïve call for cooperation glosses over the very real problem of urban gentrification represented by the flood of bigger and better-equipped trucks taking over the neighborhood. When the taco truck is the only game in town, the food line consists of hard-hatted construction workers. Then, as falafel, arepa, gelato, hot dog, and gumbo trucks set up shop, professionals and hipsters start showing up. (All the customers are depicted as animals.) The author also inadvertently equates tacos with a lack of sophistication. “ ‘Hola, Miss Fal…Fal…’ Little Taco Truck tried to sound out the words on the side of the other truck.” Sadly, the truck sells Americanized crisp-shelled tacos. Even the glossary ignores the culinary versatility and cultural authenticity of the soft taco with this oversimplified and inaccurate definition: “A crispy Mexican corn pancake folded or rolled around a filling of meat, beans, and cheese.”

Slight and contrived. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: April 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5247-6585-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Schwartz & Wade/Random

Review Posted Online: Jan. 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2019

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