A visual feast of cityscape shapes.

READ REVIEW

CITY SHAPES

Rhyming text and brilliant multimedia collage combine to follow a girl’s journey through her beloved city.

Part concept book, part love letter to urban beauty, Murray and Collier’s collaboration highlights an African-American girl’s observations about the many shapes she sees in and around her city. In his illustrator’s note, Collier tells readers that he modeled the little girl on his own daughter, and Murray’s author’s note shares that she was inspired to write her rhyming verse by her many walks around New York City. The text’s pattern first highlights many different items that share a given shape and then names that shape before moving on to another list. A postal truck, a pretzel cart, "and stacks of brown packages hauled up the stairs" are all squares, for instance. Collier fills every page, allowing art to take up entire double-page spreads, and his distinctive collage technique is particularly well-suited to highlighting the shapes named by the text. He also pushes well beyond merely visually reiterating the items the text lists, and the result is a seamless interdependence of art and text that will allow readers to find the named items while also providing ample visual interest to reward poring over the illustrations.

A visual feast of cityscape shapes. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: June 21, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-316-37092-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: March 30, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2016

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Should have readers and caregivers singing, clapping, and bouncing along.

THE BUTTON BOOK

This picture book plays on the universal temptation to push buttons.

A squirrel—presumably the first-person narrator of the book—finds a large, round, red button and wonders what would happen when it’s pressed. The squirrel presses the button, and a large rubber horn pops up and honks: “Beep!” The sound attracts a bird and a dog, and together the three come across a triangular orange button. “What does the orange button do?” they wonder, and they discover that it causes them all to clap. As the picture book progresses, other animals—including an elephant, a tortoise, a deer, and a small dinosaur—join the trio, and together they come across and press a giant hexagonal blue button, a round green button, a yellow button (literally—it looks as though it’s come off a coat), a square pink button, and a small purple button that can only be reached by climbing a ladder. Each of the buttons makes the friends do something different, from singing and bouncing to blowing raspberries. British writer Nicholls’ simple, silly narrative and Woollvin’s colorfully childlike illustrations result in a fun picture book that incorporates shapes and colors and that can be used at home and in libraries and classrooms. Pages are dominated by gray with accents—including the animals’ fur and feathers—changing to match the color of each button.

Should have readers and caregivers singing, clapping, and bouncing along. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Jan. 14, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-7352-6715-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Tundra

Review Posted Online: Oct. 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2019

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A multilayered, endearing treasure of a day.

MY DAY WITH GONG GONG

Spending a day with Gong Gong doesn’t sound like very much fun to May.

Gong Gong doesn’t speak English, and May doesn’t know Chinese. How can they have a good day together? As they stroll through an urban Chinatown, May’s perpetually sanguine maternal grandfather chats with friends and visits shops. At each stop, Cantonese words fly back and forth, many clearly pointed at May, who understands none of it. It’s equally exasperating trying to communicate with Gong Gong in English, and by the time they join a card game in the park with Gong Gong’s friends, May is tired, hungry, and frustrated. But although it seems like Gong Gong hasn’t been attentive so far, when May’s day finally comes to a head, it is clear that he has. First-person text gives glimpses into May’s lively thoughts as they evolve through the day, and Gong Gong’s unchangingly jolly face reflects what could be mistaken for blithe obliviousness but is actually his way of showing love through sharing the people and places of his life. Through adorable illustrations that exude humor and warmth, this portrait of intergenerational affection is also a tribute to life in Chinatown neighborhoods: Street vendors, a busker playing a Chinese violin, a dim sum restaurant, and more all combine to add a distinctive texture. 

A multilayered, endearing treasure of a day. (glossary) (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 8, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-77321-429-0

Page Count: 36

Publisher: Annick Press

Review Posted Online: June 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 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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