Lovely but incomplete, both in information provided and in narrative.

THE THINGS THAT I LOVE ABOUT TREES

A child celebrates what they love about trees from spring through winter.

In the spring, “the thing about trees that I love…is that changes begin.” In summer, they “are shady and so full of leaves that when the wind blows, they swish like the sea.” This upbeat, child-centered narrative is supplemented by brief, factual statements set in a smaller type. As the child looks at the blossoms on a plum tree, for instance, the small print informs readers that “bees visit the blossoms to collect nectar. Some pollen from each flower brushes onto a visiting bee, which carries it to the next flower.” Voake’s trees are simply glorious, rendered in her signature style of bold, black ink lines and splashy watercolor. They feel alive, from smooth-barked beeches to massive oaks. However, while their leaves are identified on the attractive endpapers, it will be up to caregivers to guess at most of the types depicted in the story. The narrator is a child with light brown skin (not consistent in hue) and straight, black hair who appears to live in an apartment building. The relationship of this substantial growth of varied trees to that building is unclear, especially as the child and their friends seem to have easy, unmediated access to it: Is it a nearby city park? Is the apartment building in a wooded area?

Lovely but incomplete, both in information provided and in narrative. (index, note) (Informational picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: March 13, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-7636-9569-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Feb. 4, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2018

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As ephemeral as a valentine.

LOVE FROM THE CRAYONS

Daywalt and Jeffers’ wandering crayons explore love.

Each double-page spread offers readers a vision of one of the anthropomorphic crayons on the left along with the statement “Love is [color].” The word love is represented by a small heart in the appropriate color. Opposite, childlike crayon drawings explain how that color represents love. So, readers learn, “love is green. / Because love is helpful.” The accompanying crayon drawing depicts two alligators, one holding a recycling bin and the other tossing a plastic cup into it, offering readers two ways of understanding green. Some statements are thought-provoking: “Love is white. / Because sometimes love is hard to see,” reaches beyond the immediate image of a cat’s yellow eyes, pink nose, and black mouth and whiskers, its white face and body indistinguishable from the paper it’s drawn on, to prompt real questions. “Love is brown. / Because sometimes love stinks,” on the other hand, depicted by a brown bear standing next to a brown, squiggly turd, may provoke giggles but is fundamentally a cheap laugh. Some of the color assignments have a distinctly arbitrary feel: Why is purple associated with the imagination and pink with silliness? Fans of The Day the Crayons Quit (2013) hoping for more clever, metaliterary fun will be disappointed by this rather syrupy read.

As ephemeral as a valentine. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Dec. 24, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5247-9268-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Penguin Workshop

Review Posted Online: Feb. 2, 2021

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THIS BOOK IS GRAY

A gray character tries to write an all-gray book.

The six primary and secondary colors are building a rainbow, each contributing the hue of their own body, and Gray feels forlorn and left out because rainbows contain no gray. So Gray—who, like the other characters, has a solid, triangular body, a doodle-style face, and stick limbs—sets off alone to create “the GRAYest book ever.” His book inside a book shows a peaceful gray cliff house near a gray sea with gentle whitecaps; his three gray characters—hippo, wolf, kitten—wait for their arc to begin. But then the primaries arrive and call the gray scene “dismal, bleak, and gloomy.” The secondaries show up too, and soon everyone’s overrunning Gray’s creation. When Gray refuses to let White and Black participate, astute readers will note the flaw: White and black (the colors) had already been included in the early all-gray spreads. Ironically, Gray’s book within a book displays calm, passable art while the metabook’s unsubtle illustrations and sloppy design make for cramped and crowded pages that are too busy to hold visual focus. The speech-bubble dialogue’s snappy enough (Blue calls people “dude,” and there are puns). A convoluted moral muddles the core artistic question—whether a whole book can be gray—and instead highlights a trite message about working together.

Low grade. (glossary) (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5420-4340-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Two Lions

Review Posted Online: July 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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