A mixed bag.

An alphabetical tour of emotions.

This British import mixes words that many young kids will know, such as brave, kind, and mad (the last defined in the American sense, as angry), with less-familiar ones such as overwhelmed and vulnerable. It even features at least one word that may be new to adults: “X is for Xenial….Xenial is being welcoming to strangers.” Compounding the difficulty here, the visual image of a Black kid dressed as a magician hugging a rabbit they’ve pulled out of a hat does not exactly illustrate xeniality (xenialness?). Other illustrations do a better job of helping readers understand the words being introduced. The illustrations feature racially diverse children and are usually paired in each double-page spread: “A is for Anxious. Anxious is feeling really worried about something. / B is for Brave. Brave is being nervous about something and doing it anyway.” On the A page, a brown-skinned kid cowers from the dragon that encircles their bed, as in a nightmare. Across the gutter on the B page, the ferociously scowling child confronts the now-intimidated monster. Kids will get an immediate sense of those two words. Animals, real and imaginary, often play a role in the pictures. The book will be best shared one on one or in very small groups, when children can really spend time examining the pictures and talking about their own impression of what is happening in each picture. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A mixed bag. (word list) (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 14, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-20519-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: July 26, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2021


From the Larry Gets Lost series

Larry could use a better compass.

As Larry Gets Lost again per series formula, the dog and his boy, Pete, look for alphabet letters and explore New York City.

The sights they take in are sometimes specific and sometimes generic, but they are mostly iconic: “C is for Central Park and the Chrysler building,” while “D is for deli.” “W is for Wall Street,” and “Y is for Yankee Stadium” exemplify New York City, but “I is for ice cream” seems a bit of a stretch. Several entries will require some context for many readers, such as “A is for art” (a lineup of Warhol soup cans at the Museum of Modern Art); “H is for the High Line”; and “V is for the Village” (Greenwich Village, that is). In Skewes’ retro-styled illustrations, Pete is a white boy who looks a bit like Elroy Jetson, with hair puffing out from beneath the brim of a baseball cap, and Larry is similarly stylized. The mostly silhouetted background figures that occasionally appear do nothing to convey the city’s tremendous cultural diversity. The pages are largely just one- or two-color designs in a sophisticated palette that occasionally works against meaning: The blue-on-blue “N is for neon at night” (in Times Square) is devoid of neon. The square size makes the pages feel cramped. NY Is for New York, by Paul Thurlby (2017), does much the same thing and is far more attractive.

Larry could use a better compass. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 7, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-63217-167-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Little Bigfoot/Sasquatch

Review Posted Online: April 15, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2018


A low-key consciousness raiser, more about the fun (and value) of measuring than the importance of accurate results.

An invitation to compare heights, lengths, weights, temperatures, and other relative measures in this German import.

Focusing largely on observations of the natural world, a mix of questions and facts (“Try counting your teeth. How many are there?…Did you know that [adult] humans have the same number of teeth as a cow?”) spurs reflection as well as chuckles. The ruminative tone of the narrative is echoed in the China-born illustrator’s cleanly drawn, serigraphic-style illustrations, which feature serene-looking animals, twisting lines in a 5,000-year-old pine or the tentacles of a colossal squid, and light- or dark-skinned adults and children, all posed in conjunction on pale-hued, plain backgrounds. Though the language is sometimes confusingly imprecise (it is unclear what is being measured in a claim that an albatross’s wingspan is “2.5 times their average height” or a small dinosaur’s “length” compared to a supposedly larger mountain goat that is visibly shorter in the picture), the actual units of measure are plainly intended as averages rather than exact figures. Those units (mostly English) are accurate enough in general and sometimes amusingly unconventional to boot: A goliath beetle larva, for instance “weighs more than a bar of chocolate,” and a red deer’s time in the 100-meter dash easily outpaces Usain Bolt’s. A final observation that there are many “surprising things big and small” in the world makes a properly open-ended concluding promise.

A low-key consciousness raiser, more about the fun (and value) of measuring than the importance of accurate results. (glossary) (Informational picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Nov. 6, 2018

ISBN: 978-3-89955-812-8

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Little Gestalten

Review Posted Online: Sept. 16, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2018

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