The sentiment is true even when obscured, as here, by ostentatious graphic design.

READ REVIEW

ANIMALS SPELL LOVE

A series of fanciful animal portraits, constructed using only the letters or signs for “Love” or “I love you” in 16 languages (or 18, depending how you count).

Style definitively trumps legibility here, whether the sentiment is expressed in English or Amharic, Thai, or American Sign Language. Even for the nine tongues that use non-Roman scripts, Cundy, a veteran typographer, chooses multiple typefaces and throws in so many swashes and dingbats that the animals are rarely recognizable and the words composing their bodies thoroughly disguised. Fortunately for readers, he identifies all of the creatures, scenarios, and languages in his accompanying narratives. Unfortunately, he also adds sometimes-daunting challenges, such as finding a tiny heart placed amid thousands of spiral ornaments on the Hebrew page or counting the hundreds of “Love letters” that make up the ornate flowers he assembles for English. Also unfortunately, his pronunciation guidelines are idiosyncratic—the umlaut in the Swedish “älskar” is rendered as a glottal stop following the pronoun “Jag,” for instance, while the short “a” in the French “L’amour” is given as is, but the same sound in the Italian “Amore” is “Ah.” Between a pretty if perfunctory world map that doubles as index and a complete tally of typefaces and ornaments, he concludes “Any way you say it, ‘I love you’ means the same thing to everyone!”

The sentiment is true even when obscured, as here, by ostentatious graphic design. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Dec. 6, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-56792-586-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Godine

Review Posted Online: Nov. 6, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2016

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An all-day sugar rush, putting the “fun” back into, er, education.

IF I BUILT A SCHOOL

A young visionary describes his ideal school: “Perfectly planned and impeccably clean. / On a scale, 1 to 10, it’s more like 15!”

In keeping with the self-indulgently fanciful lines of If I Built a Car (2005) and If I Built a House (2012), young Jack outlines in Seussian rhyme a shiny, bright, futuristic facility in which students are swept to open-roofed classes in clear tubes, there are no tests but lots of field trips, and art, music, and science are afterthoughts next to the huge and awesome gym, playground, and lunchroom. A robot and lots of cute puppies (including one in a wheeled cart) greet students at the door, robotically made-to-order lunches range from “PB & jelly to squid, lightly seared,” and the library’s books are all animated popups rather than the “everyday regular” sorts. There are no guards to be seen in the spacious hallways—hardly any adults at all, come to that—and the sparse coed student body features light- and dark-skinned figures in roughly equal numbers, a few with Asian features, and one in a wheelchair. Aside from the lack of restrooms, it seems an idyllic environment—at least for dog-loving children who prefer sports and play over quieter pursuits.

An all-day sugar rush, putting the “fun” back into, er, education. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 13, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-55291-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Dial

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

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Too thin to fly as either tour or tribute but a memorable showcase nonetheless for a talented French paper artist.

MARY POPPINS UP, UP AND AWAY

From the Up, Up and Away series

Silhouettes, both printed and laser-cut, add sparkle to a quick tour of London sites and starry skies conducted by Mary Poppins.

Michael and Jane are thrilled when their nanny (literally) drops in on the end of a kite string, and spit-spot they’re off to see Buckingham Palace, Big Ben, and Piccadilly—followed by an undersea visit and a flight through comet-filled skies to a circus of constellations. As the text, translated without credit from the original French, is confined to a few wooden couplets along the lines of “On Cherry Tree Lane, it’s a nice day to dream… / To walk in the park or to eat an ice cream,” the stars of the show are Druvert’s illustrations. The black, cut pages are designed to be flipped back and forth to fill in printed cityscapes, marine scenes, and speckled firmaments with fine detail. The marvelous intricacy of the cutout fences, ironwork, trees, strands of seaweed, and small human figures leaves those pages too fragile to survive even moderately careless handling intact, but the intensely black overlay (along with a subtle use of gray tones in the backgrounds) creates a sense of depth and, often, an evocative shimmer of light. A large die-cut window in the front cover offers a hint of the visual pleasures within.

Too thin to fly as either tour or tribute but a memorable showcase nonetheless for a talented French paper artist. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 31, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-500-65104-9

Page Count: 36

Publisher: Thames & Hudson

Review Posted Online: Nov. 16, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2016

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