With so many wonderful ABC books out there, it’s safe to skip this ambitious but ultimately disappointing effort.

BUSY LITTLE DINOSAURS

From the Back-and-Forth Book series

This interactive alphabet book describes a dinosaur day at school.

Each double-page spread features one to four letters of the alphabet, accompanied by a couple of lines of rhyming verse. Words in the verse that start with the featured letter(s) are flagged by colorful type, but they are not always strong or memorable choices. For example, the word associated with the letter “A” is “agree” in the following verse: “Busy little dinosaurs, / as a rule, / agree it’s fun / to go to school.” Further, the verses don’t always make for smooth reading, and the “Back-and-Forth” concept falls flat. At the end of the volume, readers are told to “go back to the cutouts / for surprises and fun. / Guess the letters things start with / and then you’ll be done!” Flipping backward, the cutouts appear on every other double-page spread, framing an object that begins with one of the featured letters from that page. Readers can spot them and guess what letter they begin with, yes, but there is no surprise and nothing to be gained from going backward, as these objects appear in the cutouts on a regular read-through just the same. The illustrations are cheerful and often funny, but they can’t make up for the shortfalls here.

With so many wonderful ABC books out there, it’s safe to skip this ambitious but ultimately disappointing effort. (Board book. 2-5)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-6237-0234-2

Page Count: 22

Publisher: Capstone Young Readers

Review Posted Online: July 22, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 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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Ideal for any community where children count.

COUNTING ON COMMUNITY

A difficult concept is simply and strikingly illustrated for the very youngest members of any community, with a counting exercise to boot.

From the opening invitation, “Living in community, / it's a lot of FUN! / Lets count the ways. / Lets start with ONE,” Nagaro shows an urban community that is multicultural, supportive, and happy—exactly like the neighborhoods that many families choose to live and raise their children in. Text on every other page rhymes unobtrusively. Unlike the vocabulary found in A Is for Activist (2013), this book’s is entirely age-appropriate (though some parents might not agree that picketing is a way to show “that we care”). In A Is for Activist, a cat was hidden on each page; this time, finding the duck is the game. Counting is almost peripheral to the message. On the page with “Seven bikes and scooters and helmets to share,” identifying toys in an artistic heap is confusing. There is only one helmet for five toys, unless you count the second helmet worn by the girl riding a scooter—but then there are eight items, not seven. Seven helmets and seven toys would have been clearer. That quibble aside, Nagara's graphic design skills are evident, with deep colors, interesting angles, and strong lines, in a mix of digital collage and ink.

Ideal for any community where children count. (Board book. 2-5)

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-60980-632-3

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Triangle Square Books for Young Readers

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2016

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