Visually sparkling—but with a text that doesn’t always suit the audience.

READ REVIEW

MR. PUMPKIN'S TEA PARTY

A rhyming Halloween seek-and-find book gives readers some practice counting from one to 13 (natch).

“There’s a party at Mr. Pumpkin’s tonight, / a banquet with friends in autumn twilight. / And at this soirée we’ll see and we’ll find / ghoulish delights of every kind.” The host himself contributes a beautifully decorated cake, and each of the seven guests brings increasing numbers of treats to the table, from Sir Bones’ two jugs of cider to Baron Laguna’s 12 balloons. Bats, cups of tea, and singing frogs round out the counting, which ends with the clock striking 13 and the end of the party. Barker’s illustrations are a delight, the spooky details softened by a cartoonish treatment and soft color palette; nothing here is threatening or too scary. But the text doesn’t live up to the artwork. The clever character names are sure to go over the heads of readers still interested in finding and counting items in the pictures, and scansion and meaning sometimes take a back seat to the rhythm and rhyme. As a result, the word order can be confusing for young children: “Follow six lamps— / to the house they will lead.”

Visually sparkling—but with a text that doesn’t always suit the audience. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-936669-77-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: blue manatee press

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

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Plotless and pointless, the book clearly exists only because its celebrity author wrote it.

YOUR BABY'S FIRST WORD WILL BE DADA

A succession of animal dads do their best to teach their young to say “Dada” in this picture-book vehicle for Fallon.

A grumpy bull says, “DADA!”; his calf moos back. A sad-looking ram insists, “DADA!”; his lamb baas back. A duck, a bee, a dog, a rabbit, a cat, a mouse, a donkey, a pig, a frog, a rooster, and a horse all fail similarly, spread by spread. A final two-spread sequence finds all of the animals arrayed across the pages, dads on the verso and children on the recto. All the text prior to this point has been either iterations of “Dada” or animal sounds in dialogue bubbles; here, narrative text states, “Now everybody get in line, let’s say it together one more time….” Upon the turn of the page, the animal dads gaze round-eyed as their young across the gutter all cry, “DADA!” (except the duckling, who says, “quack”). Ordóñez's illustrations have a bland, digital look, compositions hardly varying with the characters, although the pastel-colored backgrounds change. The punch line fails from a design standpoint, as the sudden, single-bubble chorus of “DADA” appears to be emanating from background features rather than the baby animals’ mouths (only some of which, on close inspection, appear to be open). It also fails to be funny.

Plotless and pointless, the book clearly exists only because its celebrity author wrote it. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: June 9, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-250-00934-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Review Posted Online: April 15, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2015

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Sweet, but like marshmallow chicks, just a bit of fluff.

THE LITTLEST EASTER BUNNY

From the Littlest series

The smallest bunny in Easter Town finds that she and her little chick friend are big enough to help the Easter Bunny prepare for the annual Easter egg hunt.

In the fifth entry in the Littlest series, Penny the bunny wants to help get ready for Easter. All the rabbits in her family are busy with their special jobs, getting eggs, candy, and baskets in order, but little Penny seems too small or clumsy to be of any help. Her parents and siblings try to let her assist them, but she falls into a vat of dye, spills marshmallow goo, gets tangled in the strands of a basket, and fails to fill even one Easter basket. Feeling dejected, Penny befriends a tiny chick named Peck. With the help of Penny’s family, Penny and Peck make miniature treats and petite baskets suitable to their own size. When the Easter Bunny’s main helpers fall ill, Penny and Peck convince the Easter Bunny that their small size will help them do the best job of finding spots to hide eggs as well as their own tiny basket creations. This too-pat conclusion doesn’t quite hold up to logical analysis, as the full-size eggs and baskets are still too large for Penny and Peck to handle. Bland cartoon illustrations are filled with bunnies in candy-bright pastels with a greeting-card cuteness quotient.

Sweet, but like marshmallow chicks, just a bit of fluff. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Jan. 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-338-32912-4

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Cartwheel/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Dec. 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

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