Preschoolers need to learn how plants grow. This supplies the basics, but novelty (an arguably waning term for app imitators...

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PLANT THE TINY SEED

This companion to Matheson’s two previous titles featuring interactivity (Tap the Magic Tree, 2013; Touch the Brightest Star, 2015) encourages listeners to tap, press, and swipe their way through gardening.

In addition to exerting agency over the planting and nurturing of seeds, children are invited to count and look for a ladybug. The directions (which are very similar to previous books) are presented in uninspired rhymes: “Wiggle your fingers / to add some water. // That’s enough. / Next, rub the sun to make it hotter.” The narrative unfolds on white pages with a low horizon line created where the soil ends; this brown border fills half an inch or so at the bottom of each page. The red insect, small seeds, and a pale-blue watering spout are gradually added, and isolated natural elements make brief cameos. Presumably the low-key design is meant to contrast with the concluding collage depicting three zinnias, several bees and butterflies, and a hummingbird, but viewers will likely get restless without more-exciting results rewarding their efforts along the way. Whereas pages of different colors and a tree that filled each composition, changing with the seasons, provided visual interest in Tap the Magic Tree, these scenes feel empty for too long.

Preschoolers need to learn how plants grow. This supplies the basics, but novelty (an arguably waning term for app imitators on paper) is not a substitute for compelling art. (notes) (Picture book. 2-5)

Pub Date: Jan. 24, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-239339-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Greenwillow

Review Posted Online: Oct. 19, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2016

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It’s sweet, but it thematically (and eponymously) replicates Dan Pinto and Benn Sutton’s Hedgehug (2011)—with much less verve

HEDGEHUGS

How do you hug if you’re a hedgehog?

Horace and Hattie are best friends who like to spend time together making daisy chains, splashing in puddles, and having tea parties. But they are OK doing things on their own, too: Hattie dances in the bluebells, while Horace searches the woods for spiders. But no matter what they do, together or apart, there’s one thing that they’ve found impossible: hugging. Each season, they try something new that will enable them to cushion their spines and snuggle up. Snow hugs are too cold, hollow-log hugs are too bumpy, strawberry hugs are too sticky, and autumn-leaf hugs are too scratchy. But a chance encounter with some laundry drying on a line may hold the answer to their problem—as well as to the universal mystery of lost socks. Tapper’s illustrations are a mix of what appears to be digital elements and photographed textures from scraps of baby clothes. While the latter provide pleasing textures, the hedgehogs are rendered digitally. Though cute, they are rather stiff and, well, spiky. Also, the typeface choice unfortunately makes the D in “hedgehug” look like a fancy lowercase A, especially to those still working on their reading skills.

It’s sweet, but it thematically (and eponymously) replicates Dan Pinto and Benn Sutton’s Hedgehug (2011)—with much less verve . (Picture book. 2-5)

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-62779-404-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Sept. 21, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2015

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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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