While the seed of a good idea is here, it withers and dies by the end (pun intended)

WHO CAN?

Little ones are encouraged to guess the identity of various animals through pun-filled riddles.

“Who can sing while sitting in a tree? Who can?” So reads the text on the left-side of the first double-page spread. Across the gutter, a telltale bright beak peeks out from a copse of trees, and the page-turn reveals the answer: “TOUCAN.” “Who can?” is asked again to introduce a pelican, and the pattern of riddle and reveal continues with question on recto and answer on the following verso. The next set of animals—pandas and barracudas—answers the question “Who does?” The puns get stretched a little too thin when the riddle reads “Who stirs the wheel in the playground? Who stirs?” and the answer is “HAMSTERS.” While van Kampen’s illustrations are lively enough against white backgrounds and employ warmly saturated colors, the tone of the art is an odd mix of the naturalistic (pandas eating bamboo) and the whimsical (centipedes reading this very book). The project ends with a query directed to readers, asking who can read this riddle book. On the following double-page spread a white toddler sits in an oversized chair reading as all the animals (including fish-out-of-water minnows and a barracuda) from subsequent pages gaze on with admiration.

While the seed of a good idea is here, it withers and dies by the end (pun intended) . (Board book. 2-3)

Pub Date: March 27, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4598-1369-4

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Orca

Review Posted Online: June 11, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2018

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This holiday ditty misses too many beats.

THE ITSY BITSY PILGRIM

From the Itsy Bitsy series

The traditional story of the first Thanksgiving is set to the tune of “The Itsy-Bitsy Spider” and stars rodents instead of humans.

The titular itsy-bitsy Pilgrim, a mouse dressed in iconic Puritan garb, sails to “a home that’s new” with three other mice on the Mayflower. They build a house, shovel snow, and greet some “itsy bitsy new friends,” who are chipmunks dressed as Native Americans complete with feathered headbands, beaded necklaces, and leather clothing. While Rescek’s art is droll and lively, it is wildly idealized, and the Native Americans’ clothing does not reflect what is understood of Wampanoag attire. The companion title, The Itsy Bitsy Reindeer, presents equally buoyant scenes. The reindeer and several elves, who appear to be white children with pointed ears, help Santa (also white) prepare for his annual sleigh-ride delivery. In both books, would-be singers may struggle to fit all the words and syllables into the meter, and a couple of rhymes are extremely forced (“shop” and “job”?).

This holiday ditty misses too many beats. (Board book. 2-3)

Pub Date: Sept. 6, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4814-6852-7

Page Count: 16

Publisher: Little Simon/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Aug. 30, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

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The sparkly cover and less-than-exciting interactive elements fail to fully convey the majesty of the watery deep.

DEEP SEA DIVE

LIFT-THE-FLAP ADVENTURES

A diver directly recruits his audience to explore the salty sea.

Closed, the shaped cover follows the curve of the diver’s helmet; open, it evokes goggles through which readers can explore the deep. A variety of underwater creatures are revealed through lifting flaps; brief rhyming text on the undersides of the flaps provides a little informational heft. These rhymes are not distinguished by their lyricism, alas. “Jellyfish are pretty— / some glow in the dark. / But don't swim too close— / their sting leaves a mark.” The simply drawn creatures are not depicted to scale. The seahorse dominates its page, while the toothy shark appears shorter than the sea turtle. Two-toned blue backgrounds evoke waves. Space Walk uses an identical format to survey the planets (all eight of them) and is equally superficial.

The sparkly cover and less-than-exciting interactive elements fail to fully convey the majesty of the watery deep. (Board book. 2-3)

Pub Date: March 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-4027-8525-2

Page Count: 12

Publisher: Sterling

Review Posted Online: June 13, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2012

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