This is a solid visual introduction to Alexander Calder for young art aficionados, but the text fails as a counting book as...

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ONE & OTHER NUMBERS WITH ALEXANDER CALDER

From the First Concepts with Fine Artists series

Using counting as a framework, this book invites viewers to look closely at works by sculptor Alexander Calder.

Calder’s art features prominently, with expansive and clear photographs set against a glossy white background. It’s a lovely, well-curated collection of Calder’s work, including kid-pleasing, colorful mobiles, representational bent-wire sculptures, and solid stabiles, a kind of immobile statuary. Unfortunately, on pages with a relatively high word count, the bold, all-caps type distracts from the delicate art. Written as a direct engagement to readers, this is ostensibly a concept book. However, that intent is lost as it alternates between a simple counting format and convoluted directives. The book works nicely where expectations are clear: “TWO PIECES FLYING HIGH!” Where the text abandons the concept-book formula, however, it leaves readers confused about how to approach the task. When counting balls on a mobile, the answer should ostensibly be “FOUR. BUT WHAT ABOUT THAT TINY RED ONE? OKAY: FIVE!” Frequent narrative interjections, such as “SLOW DOWN!” or “PHEW!” further disrupt the flow. A brief section in which the text is more open-ended, inviting readers to create their own numerical criteria, is more successful. The last page provides a brief Calder biography.

This is a solid visual introduction to Alexander Calder for young art aficionados, but the text fails as a counting book as it strains just a little too hard to be playful . (Board book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Oct. 30, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-7148-7510-1

Page Count: 30

Publisher: Phaidon

Review Posted Online: Nov. 22, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2018

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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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It’s a bit hard to dance, or count, to this beat.

ONE MORE DINO ON THE FLOOR

Dinos that love to move and groove get children counting from one to 10—and perhaps moving to the beat.

Beginning with a solo bop by a female dino (she has eyelashes, doncha know), the dinosaur dance party begins. Each turn of the page adds another dino and a change in the dance genre: waltz, country line dancing, disco, limbo, square dancing, hip-hop, and swing. As the party would be incomplete without the moonwalk, the T. Rex does the honors…and once they are beyond their initial panic at his appearance, the onlookers cheer wildly. The repeated refrain on each spread allows for audience participation, though it doesn’t easily trip off the tongue: “They hear a swish. / What’s this? / One more? / One more dino on the floor.” Some of the prehistoric beasts are easily identifiable—pterodactyl, ankylosaurus, triceratops—but others will be known only to the dino-obsessed; none are identified, other than T-Rex. Packed spreads filled with psychedelically colored dinos sporting blocks of color, stripes, or polka dots (and infectious looks of joy) make identification even more difficult, to say nothing of counting them. Indeed, this fails as a counting primer: there are extra animals (and sometimes a grumpy T-Rex) in the backgrounds, and the next dino to join the party pokes its head into the frame on the page before. Besides all that, most kids won’t get the dance references.

It’s a bit hard to dance, or count, to this beat. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: March 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-8075-1598-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Whitman

Review Posted Online: Jan. 20, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2016

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