Visually cheap, narratively forced.

Operators at a color factory lose control and ask readers for help.

A panda, a zebra, and a bespectacled penguin—the same characters who managed The Black and White Factory (2016)—invite readers into the Color Factory for a grand-opening tour. This manufacturing plant uses a fancy replicating machine to calculate a color’s exact ingredients. The color-creation process is never depicted; instead, one page displays the upcoming color’s ingredients—Fire Engine Red and Canary Yellow make Factory-Approved Orange, for instance—while the following page reveals objects of that color (in this case, basketballs, traffic cones, and safety vests). The text bristles with rigid language, such as “strict formulas,” and frequent repetition of the terms “Factory-Approved” and “perfect”; when things inevitably go awry, the drama feels as forced as these rules do. It’s also unclear quite how things go awry. After readers are asked to pull blue and pink separately onto a lollipop, the lollipop suddenly has brown-gray stripes, and other objects are somehow colored in warm grays: “We do not approve!” yells the zebra as sirens wail. Actions requested of readers—tapping, rubbing, or inhaling colors—are disconnected from the displayed results. A chaos of circles, swirls, diagonals, and jagged lines along with too many similarly saturated colors create busy pages lacking focus. Hervé Tullet’s Mix It Up (2014) treats similar themes brilliantly and without blaming readers in the process.

Visually cheap, narratively forced. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: June 19, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4998-0556-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little Bee Books

Review Posted Online: April 17, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2018


A hilarious autumnal comedy of errors.

A confused squirrel overreacts to the falling autumn leaves.

Relaxing on a tree branch, Squirrel admires the red, gold, and orange leaves. Suddenly Squirrel screams, “One of my leaves is…MISSING!” Searching for the leaf, Squirrel tells Bird, “Someone stole my leaf!” Spying Mouse sailing in a leaf boat, Squirrel asks if Mouse stole the leaf. Mouse calmly replies in the negative. Bird reminds Squirrel it’s “perfectly normal to lose a leaf or two at this time of year.” Next morning Squirrel panics again, shrieking, “MORE LEAVES HAVE BEEN STOLEN!” Noticing Woodpecker arranging colorful leaves, Squirrel queries, “Are those my leaves?” Woodpecker tells Squirrel, “No.” Again, Bird assures Squirrel that no one’s taking the leaves and that the same thing happened last year, then encourages Squirrel to relax. Too wired to relax despite some yoga and a bath, the next day Squirrel cries “DISASTER” at the sight of bare branches. Frantic now, Squirrel becomes suspicious upon discovering Bird decorating with multicolored leaves. Is Bird the culprit? In response, Bird shows Squirrel the real Leaf Thief: the wind. Squirrel’s wildly dramatic, misguided, and hyperpossessive reaction to a routine seasonal event becomes a rib-tickling farce through clever use of varying type sizes and weights emphasizing his absurd verbal pronouncements as well as exaggerated, comic facial expressions and body language. Bold colors, arresting perspectives, and intense close-ups enhance Squirrel’s histrionics. Endnotes explain the science behind the phenomenon.

A hilarious autumnal comedy of errors. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-7282-3520-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Review Posted Online: June 1, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2021


While this is a fairly bland treatment compared to Deborah Lee Rose and Carey Armstrong-Ellis’ The Twelve Days of...

Rabe follows a young girl through her first 12 days of kindergarten in this book based on the familiar Christmas carol.

The typical firsts of school are here: riding the bus, making friends, sliding on the playground slide, counting, sorting shapes, laughing at lunch, painting, singing, reading, running, jumping rope, and going on a field trip. While the days are given ordinal numbers, the song skips the cardinal numbers in the verses, and the rhythm is sometimes off: “On the second day of kindergarten / I thought it was so cool / making lots of friends / and riding the bus to my school!” The narrator is a white brunette who wears either a tunic or a dress each day, making her pretty easy to differentiate from her classmates, a nice mix in terms of race; two students even sport glasses. The children in the ink, paint, and collage digital spreads show a variety of emotions, but most are happy to be at school, and the surroundings will be familiar to those who have made an orientation visit to their own schools.

While this is a fairly bland treatment compared to Deborah Lee Rose and Carey Armstrong-Ellis’ The Twelve Days of Kindergarten (2003), it basically gets the job done. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: June 21, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-06-234834-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 3, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2016

Close Quickview