Running away never looked so good.

UNDER THE LILACS

A declaration to run away from home leads to an awfully cozy escape.

Kate’s sister, Hannah, has shut the door on Kate’s toe, and Mom is giving flute lessons to neighborhood kids. What more reason would one need to run away? So, determined, Kate gathers duct tape and cardboard and proceeds to construct a little home under the lilacs in the neighbor’s yard. And because Mango the cat might miss her sister and her mother, she’ll build them additional rooms as well. Soon enough Hannah, Mom, and even one of Mom’s flute students show up on Kate’s cardboard doorstep, happy to live under the lilacs, “At least for a little while.” Goodale keeps the text short and sweet from the initial line, “Sometimes I want to run away,” to the penultimate declarative sentence, “Yes, I think I could stay here, under the lilacs.” And some canny young readers may well pierce the veil around Kate’s protestations that it is Mango who will be missing Hannah and Mom. The illustrations combine print, drawing, and digital techniques, making for a truly attractive mélange that evinces early spring days, green fields, and blue skies swept with clouds. After reading this book, who wouldn’t want to try their own hand at a little independence? Kate, Hannah, and Mom have pale skin and straight, dark hair; Mom’s flute student has brown skin and puffy brown hair.

Running away never looked so good. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-358-15393-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 18, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 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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A TREE IS NICE

A nursery school approach to a general concept. "A tree is nice"- Why? Because..."We can climb the tree...play pirate ship...pick the apples...build playhouses out of the leaves. A tree is nice to hang a swing in...Birds build nests in trees... Sticks come off trees...People have picnics there too"...etc. etc. One follows the give and take of a shared succession of reactions to what a tree- or trees- can mean. There is a kind of poetic simplicity that is innate in small children. Marc Simont has made the pictures, half in full color, and they too have a childlike directness (with an underlying sophistication that adults will recognize). Not a book for everyone -but those who like it will like it immensely. The format (6 x 11) makes it a difficult book for shelving, so put it in the "clean hands" section of flat books. Here's your first book for Arbor Day use- a good spring and summer item.

Pub Date: June 15, 1956

ISBN: 978-0-06-443147-7

Page Count: 36

Publisher: Harper

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1956

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