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A PIG IS BIG

“What’s big?” asks a pleasant pink pig as he compares himself to cows, cars, trucks, streets, the neighborhood, the city, and the earth, and finally to the universe, which “makes everything seem small.” Although the concept of relative size is well taken, the expansion from self to universe is flawed by the incongruity of some of the images. The pig and the cow squeeze into a model T–type car that is stuck in the mud, but are towed by a modern tow truck into a modern city. In the final sequence, the sun seems smaller than the earth. A simple verse pattern carries the lilting text with each verse ending with the repetitive phrase “What’s bigger than . . .” Florian’s double-paged watercolor paints and colored pencil are soft and muted, sometimes too muted, particularly in background areas. Occasional flashes of humor illustrate the text as the cow and the pig travel through a city populated by animals at work and at play. It ends with an amusing image of the pig as a constellation in the universe. Not Florian’s best effort, but a good conversation-starter with a young child about comparative size. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Oct. 31, 2000

ISBN: 0-688-17125-7

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2000

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YOUR BABY'S FIRST WORD WILL BE DADA

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

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 14, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2015

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GOOD NIGHT OWL

A funny tale about stress and an ever upping ante, with a comforting end.

Something is preventing Owl from falling asleep.

Owl leans back against his white pillow and headboard. “Squeek!” says something underneath the bed. Owl’s never heard that sound before, so he fastens his pink bathrobe and answers the front door. Nobody. It must be the wind; back to bed. Bidding himself goodnight, he climbs into bed—and hears the noise again. Time after time, he pops out of bed seeking the squeaker. Is it in the cupboard? He empties the shelves. Under the floor? He pulls up his floorboards. As Owl’s actions ratchet up—he destroys the roof and smashes the walls, all in search of the squeak—so does his anxiety. Not until he hunkers down in bed under the night sky (his bed is now outdoors, because the house’s roof and walls are gone), frantically clutching his pillow, does he see what readers have seen all along: a small, gray mouse. In simple illustrations with black outlines, textured coloring, and foreshortened perspective, Pizzoli plays mischievously with mouse placement. Sometimes the mouse is behind Owl or just out of his sightline; other times, the mouse is on a solid, orange-colored page across the spread from Owl, which removes him from Owl’s scene in a rather postmodern manner. Is the mouse toying with Owl? Who knows?

A funny tale about stress and an ever upping ante, with a comforting end. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: April 19, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4847-1275-7

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Jan. 19, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2016

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