Perhaps not a first choice in the competitive field of opposites books.

READ REVIEW

ALONE TOGETHER

All kinds of animals are shown in varying settings to illustrate antonyms and contrasting concepts.

Flat illustrations that look digitally composed are shown on mostly white backgrounds, with just the descriptor in easy-to-read sans-serif type. The contrasting concepts are illustrated opposite each other on the spreads. Thus, the lower portion of a giraffe (from the neck up is off the page) is illustrated with the word “high” opposite a snake in the grass, which is “low”; a tangled spider’s web is shown with the word “messy” and the remade web on the opposite page with the word “tidy.” The animals are connected with their own visual logic, so distant African antelopes represent “far,” and a scary close-up of a tiger’s face illustrates “close.” The text is sometimes subtly angled or differently sized to represent a given concept but remains easily legible for a beginning reader. The titular concept, “alone/together,” visually illustrates how ants work independently and together to demolish a leaf. In spite of their extreme simplicity, Clayton Junior’s illustrations successfully convey in scale and color the concepts being illustrated, and each spread tells a story that a skillful adult could expand on when reading with a child. A few images may be hard to interpret, particularly the bats in “sleepy/awake.” The whole impression is somewhat bland and clinical, however.

Perhaps not a first choice in the competitive field of opposites books. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Oct. 3, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-910277-28-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Words & Pictures

Review Posted Online: Aug. 2, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2017

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It’s a bit hard to dance, or count, to this beat.

ONE MORE DINO ON THE FLOOR

Dinos that love to move and groove get children counting from one to 10—and perhaps moving to the beat.

Beginning with a solo bop by a female dino (she has eyelashes, doncha know), the dinosaur dance party begins. Each turn of the page adds another dino and a change in the dance genre: waltz, country line dancing, disco, limbo, square dancing, hip-hop, and swing. As the party would be incomplete without the moonwalk, the T. Rex does the honors…and once they are beyond their initial panic at his appearance, the onlookers cheer wildly. The repeated refrain on each spread allows for audience participation, though it doesn’t easily trip off the tongue: “They hear a swish. / What’s this? / One more? / One more dino on the floor.” Some of the prehistoric beasts are easily identifiable—pterodactyl, ankylosaurus, triceratops—but others will be known only to the dino-obsessed; none are identified, other than T-Rex. Packed spreads filled with psychedelically colored dinos sporting blocks of color, stripes, or polka dots (and infectious looks of joy) make identification even more difficult, to say nothing of counting them. Indeed, this fails as a counting primer: there are extra animals (and sometimes a grumpy T-Rex) in the backgrounds, and the next dino to join the party pokes its head into the frame on the page before. Besides all that, most kids won’t get the dance references.

It’s a bit hard to dance, or count, to this beat. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: March 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-8075-1598-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Whitman

Review Posted Online: Jan. 20, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2016

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For patient listeners, a fun visit to a mixed-up barnyard.

THE WIND PLAYS TRICKS

When a fierce wind descends on the barnyard, the animals hear some odd noises…and they’re coming from their own mouths.

The sudden wind unsettles all the animals on the farm just when they should be getting ready for sleep. Instead, they anxiously “cheep” and “cluck” and “oink” and “quack” and “moooo.” They shift nervously, pull together, and make all sorts of noises. All except Turtle, who tucks into his shell under an old log and sleeps. In the morning, though, the animals get a surprise. Pig says, “Cluck”; the Little Chicks say, “Neigh”; Horse crows, “Cock-a-doodle-doo.” How will they get their proper sounds back? Turtle has an idea, and he enjoys the process so much that he decides to open his mouth the next time the wind plays tricks at the farm: Perhaps he’ll catch a sound all his own. Chua’s cartoon barnyard is bright, and her animals, expressive, their faces and body language slightly anthropomorphized. The edges of the figures sometimes betray their digital origins. Though the tale is humorous and will give lots of opportunity for practicing animal sounds, the audience is hard to pin down, as the young children sure to enjoy mooing and clucking may not have the patience to sit through the somewhat lengthy text.

For patient listeners, a fun visit to a mixed-up barnyard. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: March 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-8075-8735-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Whitman

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2019

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