An intriguing meditation on children’s agency and imagination skillfully paired with early literacy.

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SHARING...BORING? OR AMAZING!

As summer approaches, a preschooler presents alphabetical items to her class for show and tell in this debut picture book.

Maya, a brown-skinned preschooler, gets a daunting assignment. In the 26 days leading up to preschool graduation, she must bring a show-and-tell item related to successive letters of the alphabet. Maya is thrilled—but when it’s time for the letter A, a disembodied parental voice reminds her that neither full-size airplanes nor real alligators are practical subjects. Maya settles for an apple. The next day, she is stopped from carrying her baby brother and then a beehive to school. As the letters proceed, Maya must forgo clowns and other entertaining ideas in favor of small—and boring—replacements. Some adult suggestions are reasonable (do not bring a giraffe to class); others may prompt readers to question the rigidity of parental authority (Why can’t a girl dress as a ghost for G?). In between letters, double-page spreads deftly depict Maya’s weekends, which include tricycle racing and bug watching. While Jatkar’s narrative is a bit thin, there is an inspiring trend of Maya and her parent finding more compromises as they near the end of the alphabet—and of the heroine’s vibrant, wide-ranging interests making their way into the classroom. The author’s ink, paper collage, and watercolor illustrations are detailed enough to discuss during storytime—though the small font size used for the dialogue may hinder readers practicing letter recognition.

An intriguing meditation on children’s agency and imagination skillfully paired with early literacy.

Pub Date: Dec. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-9977181-6-4

Page Count: 46

Publisher: Monkeymantra

Review Posted Online: Feb. 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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A comical, fresh look at crayons and color

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THE DAY THE CRAYONS QUIT

Duncan wants to draw, but instead of crayons, he finds a stack of letters listing the crayons’ demands in this humorous tale.

Red is overworked, laboring even on holidays. Gray is exhausted from coloring expansive spaces (elephants, rhinos and whales). Black wants to be considered a color-in color, and Peach? He’s naked without his wrapper! This anthropomorphized lot amicably requests workplace changes in hand-lettered writing, explaining their work stoppage to a surprised Duncan. Some are tired, others underutilized, while a few want official titles. With a little creativity and a lot of color, Duncan saves the day. Jeffers delivers energetic and playful illustrations, done in pencil, paint and crayon. The drawings are loose and lively, and with few lines, he makes his characters effectively emote. Clever spreads, such as Duncan’s “white cat in the snow” perfectly capture the crayons’ conundrum, and photographic representations of both the letters and coloring pages offer another layer of texture, lending to the tale’s overall believability.

A comical, fresh look at crayons and color . (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: June 27, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-399-25537-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: April 15, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2013

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A riotously fresh take on breaking the fourth wall.

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THE BOOK WITH NO PICTURES

This book may not have pictures, but it’s sure to inspire lots of conversations—and laughs.

Television writer, actor and comedian Novak delivers a rare find, indeed: a very good celebrity picture book. It doesn’t even seem fair to call it such, since it has nothing to do with his Emmy Award–winning writing for The Office or the fame his broader career has afforded him. The jacket flap even eschews a glossy photo, instead saying “B.J. has brown hair and blue eyes,” in order to keep with the book’s central conceit. What this book does have is text, and it’s presented through artful typography that visually conveys its changing tone to guide oral readings. Furthermore, the text implies (or rather, demands) a shared reading transaction, in which an adult is compelled to read the text aloud, no matter how “COMPLETELY RIDICULOUS” it is. Employing direct address, it pleads with the implied child listener to allow him or her to stop reading. Nonsense words, silly words to be sung and even a smattering of potty talk for good measure all coalesce in riotous read-aloud fare. Although the closing pages beg the implied child reader to “please please please please / please / choose a book with pictures” for subsequent reading, it’s likely that this request will be ignored.

A riotously fresh take on breaking the fourth wall. (. (Picture book. 3-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 30, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-8037-4171-3

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Dial

Review Posted Online: July 16, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2014

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