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

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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Plotless and pointless, the book clearly exists only because its celebrity author wrote it.

YOUR BABY'S FIRST WORD WILL BE DADA

A succession of animal dads do their best to teach their young to say “Dada” in this picture-book vehicle for Fallon.

A grumpy bull says, “DADA!”; his calf moos back. A sad-looking ram insists, “DADA!”; his lamb baas back. A duck, a bee, a dog, a rabbit, a cat, a mouse, a donkey, a pig, a frog, a rooster, and a horse all fail similarly, spread by spread. A final two-spread sequence finds all of the animals arrayed across the pages, dads on the verso and children on the recto. All the text prior to this point has been either iterations of “Dada” or animal sounds in dialogue bubbles; here, narrative text states, “Now everybody get in line, let’s say it together one more time….” Upon the turn of the page, the animal dads gaze round-eyed as their young across the gutter all cry, “DADA!” (except the duckling, who says, “quack”). Ordóñez's illustrations have a bland, digital look, compositions hardly varying with the characters, although the pastel-colored backgrounds change. The punch line fails from a design standpoint, as the sudden, single-bubble chorus of “DADA” appears to be emanating from background features rather than the baby animals’ mouths (only some of which, on close inspection, appear to be open). It also fails to be funny.

Plotless and pointless, the book clearly exists only because its celebrity author wrote it. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: June 9, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-250-00934-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Review Posted Online: April 15, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2015

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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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