A scrumptious set of food-themed poems for budding gourmets, ripe for hours of read-aloud fun.

THE POPCORN ASTRONAUTS

AND OTHER BITEABLE RHYMES

Ruddell’s collection of 21 bite-sized poems whets even the littlest of literary appetites.

Divided (sometimes arbitrarily) according to the seasons, her poems hopscotch topic, length and approach but are consistently charming. In rhyming verse, she describes a “lickety-split” spring picnic with green grapes, baked beans “and your bow-wow and your blue jeans.” “Speaking of Peaches…” pays tribute to summer’s favorite stone fruit, its “flowery fragrance” and “flannelpajamaty skin.” Fall’s “21 Things to Do with an Apple” is a staccato litany of the apple’s many wondrous uses (“Twirl it / Float it / Caramel-coat it”), while winter’s “The World’s Biggest Birthday Cake” boasts vivid imagery: “The cake was a whopper, and I’ve heard it said, / the sprinkles alone were the size of your head.” Readers may, however, scratch their heads at the odd character—an ogre here or Dracula there (in a Halloween-timed poem). True to form, Rankin’s muted watercolors match the whimsy of Ruddell’s words. Ants frolic in the icy, pink waters of Watermelon Lake and sunbathe on the pale green shore; children wait anxiously, saltshaker in hand, to pounce on popcorn astronauts in puffy suits hurtling through the air. Animals—cats, dogs, storks and more—smile and smirk with expressive detail.

A scrumptious set of food-themed poems for budding gourmets, ripe for hours of read-aloud fun. (Picture book/poetry. 4-10)

Pub Date: March 24, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4424-6555-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: McElderry

Review Posted Online: Dec. 6, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2014

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Haphazard but jolly enough for one outing; it probably won’t last for more.

THE CRAYONS' CHRISTMAS

From the Creative Creature Catcher series

A flurry of mail addressed to Duncan’s crayons ushers in the Christmas season in this novelty spinoff of the bestselling The Day the Crayons Quit (2013) and The Day the Crayons Came Home (2015).

Actual cards and letters are tucked into envelopelike pouches pasted to the pages; these are joined in some cases by other ephemera for a package that is likely to invite sudden, intense play followed by loss and/or damage that will render the book a disappointment to reread. That’s probably OK, as in contrast to the clever story that kicked this small series off, this outing has a hastily composed feel that lacks cohesion. The first letter is addressed to Peach from Mom and includes a paper doll of the “naked” (de-wrappered) crayon along with a selection of tabbed changes of clothing that includes a top hat and tails and a bikini top and bottom. Peach’s implied gender fluidity does not mitigate the unfortunate association of peach with skin color established in the first book. The sense of narrative improvisation is cemented with an early page turn that takes the crayons from outdoors snow play to “Feeling…suddenly very Christmas-y, the crayons headed inside.” Readers can unpack a box of punch-out decorations; a recipe for gluten-free Christmas cookies that begins “go to store and buy gluten-free cookies”; a punch-out dreidel (turns out Grey is Jewish); a board game (“six-sided die” not included); and a map of Esteban (aka Pea Green) and Neon Red’s travels with Santa.

Haphazard but jolly enough for one outing; it probably won’t last for more. (Novelty. 4-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-51574-6

Page Count: 52

Publisher: Penguin Workshop

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2019

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A feisty manifesto and appealing visual experience for those who find books thrust upon them.

I DON'T WANT TO READ THIS BOOK

After declaring refusal to do so, an unseen narrator reads this book.

The book’s title appears as a Post-it note attached to the cover. With lighthearted, whimsical word-art drawings, hand-lettering, a clipped pace, and a palette dominated by a warm peach tone, the story features a wry and opinionated offstage narrator who provides metatextual commentary about the scorned book at hand. “Let me guess...Words,” says the snarky narrator about what to expect when opening the book. Some words, such as the word doubtwith its useless letter B, are “plain ridiculous.” And then there are unnecessarily large words, such as infinitesimal, which (confoundingly) means “small.” By now, the narrator has reached peak crankiness. The next objects of the narrator’s ire are sentences, described as “too many words all smushed together,” followed by paragraphs (“Just looking at a paragraph exhausts me”) and chapters. (Cue Chapter 2!) The hyperbolic vexation is genuinely funny as medium and message converge. Words, sentences, paragraphs, an entire chapter, and the ending are presented in this anti-reading diatribe, the enddepicted in triumphant, celebratory fireworks. Greenfield’s gentle satire and Lowery’s genuinely entertaining cartoon translation of prose to art might charm even avid readers (who may remember once agreeing with some of the narrator’s sentiments). (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A feisty manifesto and appealing visual experience for those who find books thrust upon them. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 9, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-32606-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2021

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