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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A one-trick pony—and the visual trick is much better presented in Rufus Butler Seder’s actual Scanimation series.

NEW YORK IN PAJAMARAMA

A low-rent Scanimation-knockoff import features a small sheet of finely barred plastic that creates moiré patterns and streams of movement when slid across a set of large, garish abstracts.

Aside from a mention of Central Park in the text and a “Broadway” street sign in one illustration, there is nothing here specific to the Big Apple. Instead, a carrot-nosed cartoon figure in striped pajamas floats over swirls of short, bar code–like lines. These are transformed, by sliding the plastic sheet very slowly across the page, into aerial views of dots, circles and spinning wheels moving through intersections or vaguely urban settings. Some scenes toward the end become fields of flashing lights intense enough to make the cautionary note on the back cover (“WARNING: CONTAINS FLASHING IMAGES”) a good idea. After delivering commentary that runs to inane lines like “The traffic speeds in a tangled race, / but all roads lead to much the same place,” the PJ-clad guide flies back to bed with a “Wakey, wakey, rise and shine! / Goodbye my friend, / Until next time.” A “next time” is unlikely for most readers.

A one-trick pony—and the visual trick is much better presented in Rufus Butler Seder’s actual Scanimation series. (Picture book/novelty. 6-8)

Pub Date: April 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-907912-23-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Trafalgar Square

Review Posted Online: Jan. 28, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2013

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A sugary take, distinguishable only in minor ways from those illustrated by Maja Dusíková (2012), Kuniko Craft (2002), and a...

SLEEPING BEAUTY

Borders of lacy wisteria and thorny wild roses add elegant atmosphere to this sweet version of the classic tale.

Sage and Gibbs’ rendition, based on the Grimms’ “Briar Rose,” ends with the marriage and goes for the empty calories, equally careless with details and eager to leave behind the grimmer aspects of the original. The “spindles” ordered burned in the wake of dark-skinned Malevola’s curse are spinning wheels in the pictures, as is the item on which Princess Rosebud at last (somehow) pricks her finger; when Prince Florizel arrives a century later, he wakes her (by kissing her hand). The joyous couple goes off to a happily ever after, thus avoiding the rape, secret marriage, and cannibalism featured in old versions of the story. Gibb makes effective use of silhouettes and also of a wordless spread to underscore the tale’s more melodramatic moments. Elsewhere, Rosebud and her royal parents, along with a flutter of tiny gossamer-winged fairies, float and gesture gracefully in sumptuous pink and pastel settings framed by lush (if sometimes thorny) floral garlands.

A sugary take, distinguishable only in minor ways from those illustrated by Maja Dusíková (2012), Kuniko Craft (2002), and a fairy coachful of like romantics. (Picture book/fairy tale. 6-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8075-7351-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Whitman

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2015

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