While there’s rhyme, this text lacks reason.

Nursery rhymes provide playful opportunities for a diverse classroom.

Readers familiar with Codell’s work may recognize that Chavarri models the teacher character after her in the colorful, digital illustrations. The teacher greets a multiracial group of children entering her nursery school classroom in frontmatter pages. And the text begins with a brief Q-and-A: “Circle time? Yes. Playing with friends? Yes. Indoor recess? NOOOOO!” The teacher holds up a Mother Goose book to entice her disappointed charges, who stand looking out at the rain in the last part of this exchange. The subsequent double-page spread doesn’t seem quite to follow, as it first shows the “Twinkle Twinkle” rhyme and then depicts a pajama-clad black child answering “Yes” to “Window?” “Star?” “Wish?” and “NOOOOO!” to “Space aliens?” But then a page turn delivers the equivocal verdict “Well, maybe” and shows the child cavorting in a fantastic outer-space scene with extraterrestrials, spaceships, and the cow jumping over the moon. (Is this indoor recess?) The Q-and-A pattern continues with other rhymes until the book’s end, when it returns to classroom, teacher, and children, who can now go outside to play since the rain, rain’s gone away.

While there’s rhyme, this text lacks reason. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: June 21, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4814-4036-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Aladdin

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2016



An upbeat introduction to a Hindu festival.

Riffing on the nursery rhyme “One, Two, Buckle My Shoe,” this picture book explores Diwali celebrations in India.

The story opens, “One, two… // mehndi for you.” Mehndi is defined below the text, and a colorful illustration depicts people showing off the mehndi on their hands. Once the book reaches 10, it starts counting backward (“Ten, nine” / fireworks shine”), continuing the rhyming pattern. The text defines Hindi words such as rangoli (“colorful designs made on the floor or ground using chalk and flowers”), diya (traditional clay lamps), and jalebi (a sweet made from deep-frying dough) as well as potentially unfamiliar English words, such as rickshaw. While not all the words are directly related to Diwali, most are common vocabulary used in northern India, rendering the book a child-friendly introduction to South Asian Hindu culture. Lush illustrations in a joyful, vibrant palette convey the feelings of India’s festive season and feature characters with a variety of skin tones but mostly similar hair textures. While the authors’ note acknowledges India’s linguistic diversity—pointing out the holiday’s alternative spelling of Deepavali—it calls Diwali an “Indian” holiday when it is actually a Hindu holiday. (This book was reviewed digitally; the review has been updated for accuracy.) 

An upbeat introduction to a Hindu festival. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Sept. 6, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-5344-5365-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Beach Lane/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Sept. 27, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2022



Adult aficionados of art books are likely to appreciate this endeavor more than children will.

How far can an alphabet concept be stretched?

The artifice of the title is a clue. Elegant, sophisticated digital illustrations combine alphabet letters with animal shapes in an art deco style that creates posterlike images. Complementing the artwork is the color palette filled with fancy shades from the more exotic reaches of an extra-large box of crayons. Some of the animal colorations are atypical, such as the zebra’s, which is painted with dark- and light-blue stripes that make it pop against a crimson background. The soft, blue-hued manatee on the cover is attractive and will have readers wondering what it is. The recto of each double-page spread is a full-page representation of the creature, while the verso displays the blocky uppercase letter on a white background above the animal’s name printed in a delicate, stylized typeface (the “I” and “J” of which are almost identical), which is followed by a brief, poetic description. For example, “Crocodile / Lurking in the murky depths, / a crocodile basks in the midday sun. / Her long, strong body is as still as a log, / but she’s waiting, watching, set to strike / and snatch her prey in snapping jaws.” The animals vary in recognizability, with fox, giraffe, and penguin on the better-known end of the spectrum and quoll and urial on the other end.

Adult aficionados of art books are likely to appreciate this endeavor more than children will. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Oct. 3, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-7636-9557-6

Page Count: 56

Publisher: Big Picture/Candlewick

Review Posted Online: July 1, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2017

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