MY OCEAN IS BLUE

A companion to Lebeuf and Barron’s previous outing, My Forest is Green (2019).

A young tot with short blond hair, pale skin, and a wondrous fascination with the ocean looks forward to spending the day at the beach. Incidental to the text but prominent in the illustrations, the child also uses forearm crutches. Cut paper that’s been textured with watercolor, acrylic, and pencil crayon creates the scenes of pebbled sand, frothy waves, and quiet tide pools. The child sees the ocean as a multitude of opposites. Sometimes it is “big” (with a vast, endless horizon), and sometimes it is “small” (a tiny hermit crab pokes out its head). Sometimes it is “dry” (a large piece of driftwood), and sometimes it is “wet” (a splashing water fight). Lebeuf gradually builds to more lyrical phrases. Sea gulls, whales, and dolphins playfully cavort while a motorboat slides by: “My ocean splashes and crashes / and echoes and squawks. // My ocean laughs and hums.” The real delight, besides the intentional focus on detailed observations, is the ease with which the child’s disability is slipped into the illustrations. At times, the crutches are laid aside, showing the tot swimming, kneeling, or playing in the sand. Any possible preconceived limitations are dashed—instead, childlike wonder and curiosity shine.

A joyful marine romp. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5253-0143-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Kids Can

Review Posted Online: Dec. 18, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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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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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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