A fair-to-middling story saved by striking illustrations with lots of sparkle.

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THE LUCKIEST SNOWBALL

A boy adopts a talking snowball, storing him in the freezer and introducing him to the changing seasons.

Izzy, who appears to be about 4, is surprised one snowy winter day when a snowball he’s just packed, illustrated as a snowy white talking head, speaks to him. The boy and his dog play with the snowball, making snow angels and a snowman. Izzy names the snowball Larry and puts his new pal in his home freezer for safekeeping, where the snowball befriends food items and ice cubes. Each season Izzy takes the snowball on an outing that lasts until the snowball complains, “Help! I’m melting!” These words are presented in large display type composed of attractive hand-cut letters. When winter returns, Izzy restores Larry to the snow-covered out-of-doors, where the snowball concludes he is lucky to have seen all the seasons and to have made a special friend. The slight plot is elevated by delightful illustrations in bold, digitally produced collage that has a cheery overall effect. The unlikely character of the snowball displays some hilarious expressions as he faces temperature changes, and the outdoor scenes of the boy, dog, and snowball playing together are charming. The boy and his mother present white. Several concluding pages offer basic information and discussion questions on the seasons and on water changing from a solid to a liquid state (though not a gas).

A fair-to-middling story saved by striking illustrations with lots of sparkle. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 10, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-8234-4105-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: July 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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Lost and found was never so riotously funny or emotionally draining.

DON'T FORGET DEXTER!

A lost toy goes through an existential crisis.

The setup is on the copyright page. Amid the markers of a universally recognizable waiting room—fish tank, chairs against the wall, receptionist’s window, kids’ coloring table—is a tiny orange T. Rex with a dialogue balloon: “Hello?” A turn of the page brings Dexter T. Rexter into close view, and he explains his dilemma directly to readers. He and his best friend came for a checkup, but Jack’s disappeared. Maybe readers can help? But when Jack is still MIA, Dexter becomes disconsolate, believing his friend might have left him behind on purpose; maybe he likes another toy better? Dexter weighs his good qualities against those he lacks, and he comes up short. But when readers protest (indicated by a change in Dexter’s tone after the turn of the page), Dexter gains the determination he needs to make a plan. Unfortunately, though hilariously, his escape plan fails. But luckily, a just-as-upset black boy comes looking for Dexter, and the two are reunited. Ward’s ink, colored-pencil, and cut-paper illustrations give readers a toy’s view of the world and allow children to stomp in Dexter’s feet for a while, his facial expressions giving them lots of clues to his feelings. Readers will be reminded of both Knuffle Bunny and Scaredy Squirrel, but Dexter is a character all his own.

Lost and found was never so riotously funny or emotionally draining. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5420-4727-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Two Lions

Review Posted Online: Aug. 2, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2017

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A comical, fresh look at crayons and color

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THE DAY THE CRAYONS QUIT

Duncan wants to draw, but instead of crayons, he finds a stack of letters listing the crayons’ demands in this humorous tale.

Red is overworked, laboring even on holidays. Gray is exhausted from coloring expansive spaces (elephants, rhinos and whales). Black wants to be considered a color-in color, and Peach? He’s naked without his wrapper! This anthropomorphized lot amicably requests workplace changes in hand-lettered writing, explaining their work stoppage to a surprised Duncan. Some are tired, others underutilized, while a few want official titles. With a little creativity and a lot of color, Duncan saves the day. Jeffers delivers energetic and playful illustrations, done in pencil, paint and crayon. The drawings are loose and lively, and with few lines, he makes his characters effectively emote. Clever spreads, such as Duncan’s “white cat in the snow” perfectly capture the crayons’ conundrum, and photographic representations of both the letters and coloring pages offer another layer of texture, lending to the tale’s overall believability.

A comical, fresh look at crayons and color . (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: June 27, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-399-25537-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: April 15, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2013

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