Goofy, hilarious, laugh-out-loud fun for all.

THE CASE OF THE MISSING CAKE

From the Not an Alphabet Book series

Bear frantically and very dramatically searches for a thief who has stolen the delicious chocolate cake.

Bear is distraught that the cake, which was supposed to appear on Page 5 of his simple alphabet book, has disappeared. Bear pleads directly with readers for help in finding the thief somewhere within the book. The furry protagonist then questions suspects, barreling through the alphabet letter by letter. Even inanimate objects draw suspicion, for it’s possible that the helicopter or the kite might have helped the culprit escape. Bear continues to blame everyone and everything he encounters, but most have strong alibis and witnesses. Finally he fingers Pig as his prime suspect, punishing him severely. But Octopus, Robot, and Walrus are skeptical and have noticed some anomalies. Sharp-eyed young readers will take note as well, for there are clues in plain sight from which Bear tries to divert attention. There’s the empty plate on his own page, dark stains around his mouth, and several pauses for ice cream and yogurt. When confronted, he denies knowledge or tries to silence his accusers. But he is truly caught. However, his punishment actually delights him, for he must bake a new cake. Boutavant’s bright, large-scale illustrations are filled with delightful details, and Bear’s overwrought reactions are positively loony. This is a perfect vehicle for reading aloud or reading together over and over, with lots of opportunities for highly expressive emoting and giggles galore.

Goofy, hilarious, laugh-out-loud fun for all. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Aug. 11, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5362-1267-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: May 3, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2020

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Safe to creep on by.

LOVE FROM THE VERY HUNGRY CATERPILLAR

Carle’s famous caterpillar expresses its love.

In three sentences that stretch out over most of the book’s 32 pages, the (here, at least) not-so-ravenous larva first describes the object of its love, then describes how that loved one makes it feel before concluding, “That’s why… / I[heart]U.” There is little original in either visual or textual content, much of it mined from The Very Hungry Caterpillar. “You are… / …so sweet,” proclaims the caterpillar as it crawls through the hole it’s munched in a strawberry; “…the cherry on my cake,” it says as it perches on the familiar square of chocolate cake; “…the apple of my eye,” it announces as it emerges from an apple. Images familiar from other works join the smiling sun that shone down on the caterpillar as it delivers assurances that “you make… / …the sun shine brighter / …the stars sparkle,” and so on. The book is small, only 7 inches high and 5 ¾ inches across when closed—probably not coincidentally about the size of a greeting card. While generations of children have grown up with the ravenous caterpillar, this collection of Carle imagery and platitudinous sentiment has little of his classic’s charm. The melding of Carle’s caterpillar with Robert Indiana’s iconic LOVE on the book’s cover, alas, draws further attention to its derivative nature.

Safe to creep on by. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Dec. 15, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-448-48932-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: Feb. 2, 2021

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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

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