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 18, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2018

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As ephemeral as a valentine.


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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This warm family story is a splendid showcase for the combined talents of Medina, a Pura Belpré award winner, and Dominguez,...


Abuela is coming to stay with Mia and her parents. But how will they communicate if Mia speaks little Spanish and Abuela, little English? Could it be that a parrot named Mango is the solution?

The measured, evocative text describes how Mia’s español is not good enough to tell Abuela the things a grandmother should know. And Abuela’s English is too poquito to tell Mia all the stories a granddaughter wants to hear. Mia sets out to teach her Abuela English. A red feather Abuela has brought with her to remind her of a wild parrot that roosted in her mango trees back home gives Mia an idea. She and her mother buy a parrot they name Mango. And as Abuela and Mia teach Mango, and each other, to speak both Spanish and English, their “mouths [fill] with things to say.” The accompanying illustrations are charmingly executed in ink, gouache, and marker, “with a sprinkling of digital magic.” They depict a cheery urban neighborhood and a comfortable, small apartment. Readers from multigenerational immigrant families will recognize the all-too-familiar language barrier. They will also cheer for the warm and loving relationship between Abuela and Mia, which is evident in both text and illustrations even as the characters struggle to understand each other. A Spanish-language edition, Mango, Abuela, y yo, gracefully translated by Teresa Mlawer, publishes simultaneously.

This warm family story is a splendid showcase for the combined talents of Medina, a Pura Belpré award winner, and Dominguez, an honoree. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 25, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-7636-6900-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: April 15, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2015

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