There are several other successful picture books about collective nouns to be preferred over this one.

READ REVIEW

A CURIOUS MENAGERIE

OF HERDS, FLOCKS, LEAPS, GAGGLES, SCURRIES, AND MORE!

Collective nouns are the singular focus of this straightforward picture book.

A round-headed monkey asks a white man who has a positively insectile mustache and is dressed in a top hat and red coat, “I’m curious. What do you call a group of geese?” The man answers the question (a gaggle) and adds the names of groups of sheep (a flock) and cows (a herd). The monkey replies, “Wow! I wonder what you would call a group of giraffes?” And so the dialogue continues: the monkey asking, the man answering. These two characters are pictured against a white background on a side panel set off from each spread illustrating the group of animals in a way that alludes to their collective noun, with varying success—a memory of elephants, for example, is shown as an elephant within another elephant’s thought bubble within a third elephant’s thought bubble. There is no apparent reason why the monkey wants to know these nouns nor any apparent structure moving the story forward. Reading this book aloud is no fun, unless learning the collective nouns is of burning interest to readers, and there is no index that would make this book useful in a reference collection. The only reason to keep turning the pages is the lovely collage illustrations, featuring playful use of shapes and patterns in sophisticated color palettes.

There are several other successful picture books about collective nouns to be preferred over this one. (author’s note) (Informational picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: June 11, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-264457-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Review Posted Online: March 12, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2019

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For many readers, uneasy optics will take the fun out of this romp.

LLAMA UNLEASHES THE ALPACALYPSE

From the Llama Book series

Llamas, alpacas, and clones—oh my!

In this sequel to Llama Destroys the World (2019), hapless Llama once again wreaks unintentional, large-scale havoc—but this time, he (sort of) saves the day, too. After making an epic breakfast (and epic mess), Llama decides to build a machine that will enable him to avoid cleaning up. No, not a vacuum or dishwasher: It’s a machine that Llama uses to clone his friend “of impeccable tidiness,” Alpaca, in order to create an “army of cleaners.” Cream-colored Llama and light-brown Alpaca, both male, are pear shaped with short, stubby legs, bland expressions, and bulging eyes. Paired with the cartoon illustrations, the text’s comic timing shines: “Llama invited Alpaca over for lunch. / Llama invited Alpaca into the Replicator 3000. / And then, Llama invited disaster.” Soon the house is full of smiling Alpacas in purple scalloped aprons, single-mindedly cleaning—and, as one might expect, things don’t go as planned. Mealtimes (i.e. “second lunch” and dinner) offer opportunities for the “alpacalypse” to emerge from Llama’s house into the wider world. Everyday life grinds to a halt as the myriad Alpacas bearing mops, dusters, and plungers continue their cleaning crusade with no signs of stopping. That is, until the Alpacas realize they are hungry….It’s all very funny, but the sight of the paler-coated Llama exploiting the darker-coated Alpaca, for whom nothing brings “more joy than cleaning,” is an uncomfortable one.

For many readers, uneasy optics will take the fun out of this romp. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: May 5, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-22285-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2020

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Phoned-in illustrations keep this quick overview firmly planted on the launch pad.

THE BIG BEYOND

THE STORY OF SPACE TRAVEL

A capsule history of space exploration, from early stargazing to probes roaming the surface of Mars.

In loosely rhymed couplets Carter’s high-speed account zooms past the inventions of constellations, telescopes, and flying machines to the launches of Sputnik I, the “Saturn Five” (spelled out, probably, to facilitate the rhyme) that put men on the moon, and later probes. He caps it all with an enticing suggestion: “We’ll need an astronaut (or two)— / so what do you think? Could it be YOU?” Cushley lines up a notably diverse array of prospective young space travelers for this finish, but anachronistic earlier views of a dark-skinned astronaut floating in orbit opposite poetic references to the dogs, cats, and other animals sent into space in the 1950s and a model of the space shuttle on a shelf next to a line of viewers watching the televised moon landing in 1969 show no great regard for verisimilitude. Also, his full-page opening picture of the Challenger, its ports painted to look like a smiley face, just moments before it blew up is a decidedly odd choice to illustrate the poem’s opening countdown. As with his cosmological lyric Once upon a Star (2018, illustrated by Mar Hernández), the poet closes with a page of further facts arranged as an acrostic.

Phoned-in illustrations keep this quick overview firmly planted on the launch pad. (Informational picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: April 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-68010-147-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Tiger Tales

Review Posted Online: Jan. 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2019

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