Doyle offers a simple but refreshingly rare variation on the traditional alphabet book (or classroom chart), which focuses on objects or nouns as the examples of the letters. Here, most of the letters are linked to actions (hopping, swinging, turning), and are brightly illustrated in a rainbow of colors. “R is for riding a really big truck,” for example, features five shades of blue as well as red, green, yellow, orange, etc. Similarly, the text employs an attractive variety of fonts. These word choices also provide an excellent springboard for creative play. The three boys depicted have a retro feel—Howdy Doody crossed with Elroy from The Jetsons. The cover copy describes them as siblings and, while the text has no storyline, the red-headed pair romp like brothers. The third black-haired boy is presumably a playmate. The pictures are appealing, but the absence of any girls or ethnic minorities could narrow the book’s potential audience. (Picture book. 2-4)

Pub Date: March 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-399-23778-X

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2006


Innovative and thoroughly enjoyable.

You think you know shapes? Animals? Blend them together, and you might see them both a little differently!

What a mischievous twist on a concept book! With wordplay and a few groan-inducing puns, Neal creates connections among animals and shapes that are both unexpected and so seemingly obvious that readers might wonder why they didn’t see them all along. Of course, a “lazy turtle” meeting an oval would create the side-splitting combo of a “SLOW-VAL.” A dramatic page turn transforms a deeply saturated, clean-lined green oval by superimposing a head and turtle shell atop, with watery blue ripples completing the illusion. Minimal backgrounds and sketchy, impressionistic detailing keep the focus right on the zany animals. Beginning with simple shapes, the geometric forms become more complicated as the book advances, taking readers from a “soaring bird” that meets a triangle to become a “FLY-ANGLE” to a “sleepy lion” nonagon “YAWN-AGON.” Its companion text, Animal Colors, delves into color theory, this time creating entirely hybrid animals, such as the “GREEN WHION” with maned head and whale’s tail made from a “blue whale and a yellow lion.” It’s a compelling way to visualize color mixing, and like Animal Shapes, it’s got verve. Who doesn’t want to shout out that a yellow kangaroo/green moose blend is a “CHARTREUSE KANGAMOOSE”?

Innovative and thoroughly enjoyable. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: March 27, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4998-0534-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little Bee Books

Review Posted Online: May 13, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2018


As a counting book, fun. As a new Sendak book, by its mere existence, notable.

A posthumously published tale of overly prolific bunnies from a master of the picture-book form.

A young magician bows before readers and releases a rabbit from his hat. More and more rabbits appear. As the book counts from one rabbit to 10, the boy becomes increasingly frustrated with the sheer number of bunnies appearing from his headwear. His irritation is alleviated only when the narrator declares, “So then—he made them vanish again!” Now the numbers count down, and with every rabbit gone the child grows distinctly happier and more lighthearted. Originally created in 1970 as a pamphlet for a fundraiser for Philadelphia’s Rosenbach Museum, this book is visually similar to such Sendak crowd-pleasers as the Nutshell Library titles, particularly One Was Johnny (1962). Adult fans seeking the darker and weightier subject matter associated with the author’s later works would do best to look elsewhere. Children, however, will be drawn to the escalating tide of fuzzy bunnies and will share the protagonist’s sense of satisfaction at watching them go. The artwork is filled with simple charm, and the counting element proves to be a nice plus as well. The protagonist has skin the white of the page.

As a counting book, fun. As a new Sendak book, by its mere existence, notable. (Picture book. 2-4)

Pub Date: Feb. 6, 2024

ISBN: 9780062644671

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Nov. 18, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2023

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