Seasons come and seasons go, but cozy concepts like barns on farms will never ever die.

BESS THE BARN STANDS STRONG

A friendly barn on a family farm weathers weather, time, and change.

Pencil and crayons lovingly illustrate the story of Bess, a family barn raised “Beam by beam and board by board” by a farming family. Bess exudes comfort and stability to all the animals that take shelter beneath her roof, and she loves observing the cycle of life and its celebrations. But when the old farmer dies, a new owner raises a different barn made of corrugated steel and filled with “new-fangled machines.” Forgotten, Bess weathers quietly until the timely appearance of a savage storm gives her the chance to be a hero. There’s a marvelous mix of peppy text and bone-deep comfort at work within the language of this story. Paying homage to such classics as Virginia Lee Burton’s The Little House (1942) as well as more recent titles like School’s First Day of School by Adam Rex and illustrated by Christian Robinson (2016), Bess’ physical anthropomorphization is limited to little details, as when boards fall askew to resemble eyebrows. Visual treasures abound in the corners of the art, and children may enjoy figuring out which characters from the beginning of the book (most white, some people of color) change and grow by the story’s end.

Seasons come and seasons go, but cozy concepts like barns on farms will never ever die. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 8, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-62414-980-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Page Street

Review Posted Online: May 17, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2020

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

As ephemeral as a valentine.

LOVE FROM THE CRAYONS

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. 2, 2021

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more