MERMAID DAY

A joyful romp from beginning to end.

A rhyming undersea celebration.

Murray and Flowers stay true to the formula of Unicorn Day (2019), though this time it’s a group of mermaids who are getting together for a can’t-miss shindig. In honor of Mermaid Day, a tan-skinned mer-queen is hosting “a great big bash!” After the preparations are complete, the guests—mer-friends and marine animals alike—swim inside the mer-queen’s castle for a day of fun. The mer-queen invites the partygoers to try on the jewelry from her treasure chest. Then it’s time to make music, dance with dolphins, ride seahorses, and play a game involving tossing rings onto the narwhals’ horns. A fabulous full spread is dedicated to the arrival of an intruding shark, but Murray subverts expectations by revealing that this fearsome-looking underwater predator just wants to join the jamboree. Anyone seeking a more subdued story should look elsewhere—the scenes are unapologetically busy in color, layout, and word choice. The mer-queen’s lavish castle looks like a layered cake festooned with decorations, while the treasure chest bursts with bling. This book delivers on its promise of a fun-filled day—mermaid fans will turn the pages again and again. The mer-friends are diverse in skin tone. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A joyful romp from beginning to end. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: July 4, 2023

ISBN: 9781728271323

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Review Posted Online: April 11, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2023

LOVE FROM THE VERY HUNGRY CATERPILLAR

Safe to creep on by.

Carle’s famous caterpillar expresses its love.

In three sentences that stretch out over most of the book’s 32 pages, the (here, at least) not-so-ravenous larva first describes the object of its love, then describes how that loved one makes it feel before concluding, “That’s why… / I[heart]U.” There is little original in either visual or textual content, much of it mined from The Very Hungry Caterpillar. “You are… / …so sweet,” proclaims the caterpillar as it crawls through the hole it’s munched in a strawberry; “…the cherry on my cake,” it says as it perches on the familiar square of chocolate cake; “…the apple of my eye,” it announces as it emerges from an apple. Images familiar from other works join the smiling sun that shone down on the caterpillar as it delivers assurances that “you make… / …the sun shine brighter / …the stars sparkle,” and so on. The book is small, only 7 inches high and 5 ¾ inches across when closed—probably not coincidentally about the size of a greeting card. While generations of children have grown up with the ravenous caterpillar, this collection of Carle imagery and platitudinous sentiment has little of his classic’s charm. The melding of Carle’s caterpillar with Robert Indiana’s iconic LOVE on the book’s cover, alas, draws further attention to its derivative nature.

Safe to creep on by. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Dec. 15, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-448-48932-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: Feb. 1, 2021

LOVE FROM THE CRAYONS

As ephemeral as a valentine.

Daywalt and Jeffers’ wandering crayons explore love.

Each double-page spread offers readers a vision of one of the anthropomorphic crayons on the left along with the statement “Love is [color].” The word love is represented by a small heart in the appropriate color. Opposite, childlike crayon drawings explain how that color represents love. So, readers learn, “love is green. / Because love is helpful.” The accompanying crayon drawing depicts two alligators, one holding a recycling bin and the other tossing a plastic cup into it, offering readers two ways of understanding green. Some statements are thought-provoking: “Love is white. / Because sometimes love is hard to see,” reaches beyond the immediate image of a cat’s yellow eyes, pink nose, and black mouth and whiskers, its white face and body indistinguishable from the paper it’s drawn on, to prompt real questions. “Love is brown. / Because sometimes love stinks,” on the other hand, depicted by a brown bear standing next to a brown, squiggly turd, may provoke giggles but is fundamentally a cheap laugh. Some of the color assignments have a distinctly arbitrary feel: Why is purple associated with the imagination and pink with silliness? Fans of The Day the Crayons Quit (2013) hoping for more clever, metaliterary fun will be disappointed by this rather syrupy read.

As ephemeral as a valentine. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Dec. 24, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5247-9268-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Penguin Workshop

Review Posted Online: Feb. 1, 2021

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