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OLD MACDONALD HAD A BABY

This Old MacDonald’s not much fun. E-I-E-I-O.

Snape and Steele give readers a modern twist.

Old MacDonald is a going-gray-around-the-temples beige-skinned man with a black husband and a beige-skinned baby. When his husband drives off in the morning, MacDonald is left in charge of the child with help from his pets—and eventually the entire barnyard, as with each stanza a new animal joins the action. Steele’s bright, cartoon-style illustrations sell the zaniness of a new dad’s day. They elevate the story as bipedal animals assist the harried dad with the increasing chaos, but they can’t save it. Snape’s word choice often fights the tempo of the song, and the few moments of alliteration may create tongue-twisters during read-alouds: “And for that baby he sang a song, / E-I-E-I-O. / With a boom-boom here, / And a crash-bang there, // Here’s a clap, there’s a whack, / Everywhere’s a raucous ruckus!” The constantly changing language—so different from the song’s patterning—makes it impossible for a child or a group of children to sing along. The joy of “Old MacDonald” is the call-and-response opportunity offered with each additional animal. What does a goat say again? In this version, adults may chuckle at the memory of the frantic early years, but children will feel frustrated that they have limited moments to join in the fun. It sinks some really good illustrations.

This Old MacDonald’s not much fun. E-I-E-I-O. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Nov. 19, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-250-30281-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Review Posted Online: Aug. 25, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2019

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PIRATES DON'T TAKE BATHS

Echoes of Runaway Bunny color this exchange between a bath-averse piglet and his patient mother. Using a strategy that would probably be a nonstarter in real life, the mother deflects her stubborn offspring’s string of bath-free occupational conceits with appeals to reason: “Pirates NEVER EVER take baths!” “Pirates don’t get seasick either. But you do.” “Yeesh. I’m an astronaut, okay?” “Well, it is hard to bathe in zero gravity. It’s hard to poop and pee in zero gravity too!” And so on, until Mom’s enticing promise of treasure in the deep sea persuades her little Treasure Hunter to take a dive. Chunky figures surrounded by lots of bright white space in Segal’s minimally detailed watercolors keep the visuals as simple as the plotline. The language isn’t quite as basic, though, and as it rendered entirely in dialogue—Mother Pig’s lines are italicized—adult readers will have to work hard at their vocal characterizations for it to make any sense. Moreover, younger audiences (any audiences, come to that) may wonder what the piggy’s watery closing “EUREKA!!!” is all about too. Not particularly persuasive, but this might coax a few young porkers to get their trotters into the tub. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: March 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-399-25425-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: Jan. 25, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2011

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LUCY'S LIGHT

Too many bugs, figuratively.

Lucy, “the youngest member of a family of fireflies,” must overcome an irrational, moon-induced anxiety in order to leave her family tree trunk and glow.

The first six pages pull readers into a lush, beautiful world of nighttime: “When the sun has set, silence falls over the Big Forest, and all of the nighttime animals wake up.” Mixed media provide an enchanting forest background, with stylized flora and fauna eventually illuminated by a large, benign moon, because the night “doesn’t like to catch them by surprise.” Turning the page catches readers by surprise, though: the family of fireflies is decidedly comical and silly-looking. Similarly, the text moves from a lulling, magical cadence to a distinct shift in mood as the bugs ready themselves for their foray into the night: “They wave their bottoms in the air, wiggle their feelers, take a deep, deep breath, and sing, ‘Here we go, it’s time to glow!’ ” It’s an acceptable change, but more unevenness follows. Lucy’s excitement about finally joining the other bugs turns to “sobbing” two nights in a row. Instead of directly linking her behavior to understandable reactions of children to newness, the text undermines itself by making Lucy’s parents’ sweet reassurances impotent and using the grandmother’s scientific explanation of moonlight as an unnecessary metaphor. Further detracting from the story, the text becomes ever denser and more complex over the book’s short span.

Too many bugs, figuratively. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Nov. 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-84-16147-00-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Cuento de Luz

Review Posted Online: July 21, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2015

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