ON THE FARM

Energetic woodcuts accompany playfully simple poems as they give young readers an engaging tour of the barnyard. From the usual suspects—rooster, cow, sheep—to some of the less celebrated denizens of the farm—snake, bees, turtle—each poem varies to suit its subject. The barn cat’s verse is succinct: “Mice / had better / think twice.” The snake’s winds its way down the page in sinuous shape. At their best, Elliott’s images are unexpected and all the more lovely: The turtle “Lifts her fossil head / and blinks / one, two, three / times in the awful light.” Others are not so successful, but Meade’s illustrations give them credence: The rooster “Crows and struts. / He’s got feathers! / He’s got guts!” This rhythmic but rather opaque assertion is accompanied by an oversized rooster who dominates the foreground; eyes shut in concentration, he levitates himself with the force of his crow—the very embodiment of “guts.” Farmyard books are a dime a dozen, but this one is a worthwhile addition, for those poems that reach beyond the ordinary and for the good-natured illustrations that complement them. (Picture book/poetry. 2-5)

Pub Date: March 1, 2008

ISBN: 978-0-7636-3322-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2008

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Likely to be popular with young Pete the Cat fans and parents seeking a gentle introduction to preschool.

PETE THE KITTY'S FIRST DAY OF PRESCHOOL

From the Pete the Cat series

The popular character enjoys storytime, painting, and a snack on the very first day of preschool.

The younger incarnation of Pete the Cat packs his backpack that he picked out from the store himself, gets a snack from his mom, and rides the school bus with his big brother, Bob (who isn’t much bigger than Pete, sizewise). At school, Pete meets his stylish teacher, Mrs. Lopez, and fellow feline classmates while keeping his signature cool. The day ends with Pete declaring: “Preschool is awesome! Pete loves everything!” James Dean’s big-eyed cats populate the simply drawn scenes that look as though they were painted in preschool-esque fashion with thick swaths of tempera. At a couple of moments (when he eats his banana and declares it tasty and when he sings along) his customarily expressionless face actually breaks into a smile. Kimberly Dean’s text is uninspired, but it’s in sync with the upbeat tone of the series. Pete’s preschool experience, while not particularly realistic, is a highly positive one; refreshingly, there is no trace of the separation anxiety or anxiousness found in many first-day-of-school books.

Likely to be popular with young Pete the Cat fans and parents seeking a gentle introduction to preschool. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: June 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06243582-8

Page Count: 24

Publisher: HarperFestival

Review Posted Online: July 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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The gentle ending, with pony and friends cuddled up for bed, slows the trotting long enough— just the way a book for...

NONI THE PONY

Noni, friendly and funny, is the perfect pony for preschoolers.

Like Noni herself, the light rhyme, bustling with rhythm and easy to read, is friendly and funny. Lester’s art, which shows every apple, carrot, cow and hen she mentions in her text, invites new readers and horse-loving listeners to join Noni and her best friends, Dave Dog and Coco the Cat, in their play. Each couplet is accompanied by Lester’s droll illustrations. The animals appear humorously flat, almost as if Lester cut them out and glued them in by hand. The movements are exaggerated and at times remarkably unhorselike. The cover is especially amusing, showing Noni doing a split in midair. “They ambush each other and play hide-and-seek, / racing and chasing and jumping the creek,” is illustrated with arrows and dotted lines to show the movement of the animal friends, while subtle eye movements let the reader know exactly who is hiding from whom. The layout, just one couplet per spread with every word illustrated, is perfect for anxious youngsters who want to prance through stories over and over again but not linger too long on any page.

The gentle ending, with pony and friends cuddled up for bed, slows the trotting long enough— just the way a book for toddlers should end. Night-night, Noni. (Picture book. 2-5)

Pub Date: Oct. 30, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-4424-5959-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Beach Lane/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Aug. 8, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2012

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