A cache of better rhyming pattern books is available.

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RHYMES WITH DOUG

An anonymous gift of a rhyming parrot sets off a precarious adventure for a young boy.

Doug, a redheaded, freckle-faced white boy, and his friend, a black girl with pom-pom pigtails who’s not seen again until the end of the book, notice a mysterious package by the mailbox. Out comes Otto, a deceptively cute, green parrot that speaks in rhyme—to magical effect. “DOUG HUG” produces a warm embrace from Otto. “DOUG MUG” elicits a hot cup of cocoa. Then the rhymes become creepy as the magic begins to go awry. “DOUG SLUG” and “DOUG BUG” transform Doug, quite upset, into each creature, respectively. Pleas from Doug to change him back to a boy succeed—with complications: “DOUG DUG. / DOUG RUG” take him from an underground cave to a magic carpet ride above the city, finally culminating with the boy safely in bed… “DOUG SNUG…BUG…RUG….” Thompson’s digitally created cartoon drawings in bold colors are reminiscent of a comic strip, and the format mixes narrative with speech bubbles to extend the familiar idiom, using wordplay and a graduated larger font indicating urgency. Simple digital backgrounds give way to photographic panoramas as Doug soars over the city. The absurd humor and haphazard context for the rhyme pattern make this book less skillfully predictable and balanced as such offerings as Nancy Shaw’s Sheep series for emerging readers.

A cache of better rhyming pattern books is available. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4814-7095-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Aladdin

Review Posted Online: Aug. 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2016

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Sweet fare for bed- or naptimes, with a light frosting of natural history.

WOODLAND DREAMS

A sonorous, soporific invitation to join woodland creatures in bedding down for the night.

As in her Moon Babies, illustrated by Amy Hevron (2019), Jameson displays a rare gift for harmonious language and rhyme. She leads off with a bear: “Come home, Big Paws. / Berry picker / Honey trickster / Shadows deepen in the glen. / Lumber back inside your den.” Continuing in the same pattern, she urges a moose (“Velvet Nose”), a deer (“Tiny Hooves”), and a succession of ever smaller creatures to find their nooks and nests as twilight deepens in Boutavant’s woodsy, autumnal scenes and snow begins to drift down. Through each of those scenes quietly walks an alert White child (accompanied by an unusually self-controlled pooch), peering through branches or over rocks at the animals in the foregrounds and sketching them in a notebook. The observer’s turn comes round at last, as a bearded parent beckons: “This way, Small Boots. / Brave trailblazer / Bright stargazer / Cabin’s toasty. Blanket’s soft. / Snuggle deep in sleeping loft.” The animals go unnamed, leaving it to younger listeners to identify each one from the pictures…if they can do so before the verses’ murmurous tempo closes their eyes.

Sweet fare for bed- or naptimes, with a light frosting of natural history. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Oct. 27, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4521-7063-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: Sept. 1, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2020

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Too many bugs, figuratively.

LUCY'S LIGHT

Lucy, “the youngest member of a family of fireflies,” must overcome an irrational, moon-induced anxiety in order to leave her family tree trunk and glow.

The first six pages pull readers into a lush, beautiful world of nighttime: “When the sun has set, silence falls over the Big Forest, and all of the nighttime animals wake up.” Mixed media provide an enchanting forest background, with stylized flora and fauna eventually illuminated by a large, benign moon, because the night “doesn’t like to catch them by surprise.” Turning the page catches readers by surprise, though: the family of fireflies is decidedly comical and silly-looking. Similarly, the text moves from a lulling, magical cadence to a distinct shift in mood as the bugs ready themselves for their foray into the night: “They wave their bottoms in the air, wiggle their feelers, take a deep, deep breath, and sing, ‘Here we go, it’s time to glow!’ ” It’s an acceptable change, but more unevenness follows. Lucy’s excitement about finally joining the other bugs turns to “sobbing” two nights in a row. Instead of directly linking her behavior to understandable reactions of children to newness, the text undermines itself by making Lucy’s parents’ sweet reassurances impotent and using the grandmother’s scientific explanation of moonlight as an unnecessary metaphor. Further detracting from the story, the text becomes ever denser and more complex over the book’s short span.

Too many bugs, figuratively. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Nov. 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-84-16147-00-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Cuento de Luz

Review Posted Online: July 22, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2015

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