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

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 engaging mix of gentle behavior modeling and inventive story ideas that may well provide just the push needed to get some...

RALPH TELLS A STORY

With a little help from his audience, a young storyteller gets over a solid case of writer’s block in this engaging debut.

Despite the (sometimes creatively spelled) examples produced by all his classmates and the teacher’s assertion that “Stories are everywhere!” Ralph can’t get past putting his name at the top of his paper. One day, lying under the desk in despair, he remembers finding an inchworm in the park. That’s all he has, though, until his classmates’ questions—“Did it feel squishy?” “Did your mom let you keep it?” “Did you name it?”—open the floodgates for a rousing yarn featuring an interloping toddler, a broad comic turn and a dramatic rescue. Hanlon illustrates the episode with childlike scenes done in transparent colors, featuring friendly-looking children with big smiles and widely spaced button eyes. The narrative text is printed in standard type, but the children’s dialogue is rendered in hand-lettered printing within speech balloons. The episode is enhanced with a page of elementary writing tips and the tantalizing titles of his many subsequent stories (“When I Ate Too Much Spaghetti,” “The Scariest Hamster,” “When the Librarian Yelled Really Loud at Me,” etc.) on the back endpapers.

An engaging mix of gentle behavior modeling and inventive story ideas that may well provide just the push needed to get some budding young writers off and running. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 18, 2012

ISBN: 978-0761461807

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Amazon Children's Publishing

Review Posted Online: Aug. 22, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2012

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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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