COUNT DOWN TO FALL

Beginning with the number ten, Hawk’s verses count down different tree leaves/seeds in all their fall glory. “Nine dogwood leaves / bright shining scarlet, / drifting down, down, down— / like the tail of a comet.” While the text is problematic—there are rhyme and scansion issues and one page does not name the tree featured at all—Neidigh’s illustrations do not disappoint. Detailed borders include close-up views of the bark of each tree while corners depict the whole tree, the leaves (both summer and fall colors) and the seeds. Woodland animals round out each spread, in which readers can count the leaves. Most are very clear, but extra objects may occasionally confuse readers. Backmatter gives readers a chance to test their knowledge of plant parts, categorize leaves according to their shape, match summer and fall leaves and learn how people and animals use some of the trees featured in the text. The visual details make this a delight to the eye, but unfortunately the verses are not music to the ear. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: July 10, 2009

ISBN: 978-1-934359-94-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sylvan Dell

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2009

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JOHNNY APPLESEED

Though she never says outright that he was a real person, Kurtz introduces newly emergent readers to the historical John Chapman, walking along the Ohio, planting apple seeds, and bartering seedlings to settlers for food and clothing. Haverfield supplies the legendary portions of his tale, with views of a smiling, stylishly ragged, clean-shaven young man, pot on head, wildlife on shoulder or trailing along behind. Kurtz caps her short, rhythmic text with an invitation to “Clap your hands for Johnny Chapman. / Clap your hands for Johnny Appleseed!” An appealing way to open discussions of our country’s historical or legendary past. (Easy reader/nonfiction. 5-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2004

ISBN: 0-689-85958-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Aladdin

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2004

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THIS BOOK IS GRAY

A gray character tries to write an all-gray book.

The six primary and secondary colors are building a rainbow, each contributing the hue of their own body, and Gray feels forlorn and left out because rainbows contain no gray. So Gray—who, like the other characters, has a solid, triangular body, a doodle-style face, and stick limbs—sets off alone to create “the GRAYest book ever.” His book inside a book shows a peaceful gray cliff house near a gray sea with gentle whitecaps; his three gray characters—hippo, wolf, kitten—wait for their arc to begin. But then the primaries arrive and call the gray scene “dismal, bleak, and gloomy.” The secondaries show up too, and soon everyone’s overrunning Gray’s creation. When Gray refuses to let White and Black participate, astute readers will note the flaw: White and black (the colors) had already been included in the early all-gray spreads. Ironically, Gray’s book within a book displays calm, passable art while the metabook’s unsubtle illustrations and sloppy design make for cramped and crowded pages that are too busy to hold visual focus. The speech-bubble dialogue’s snappy enough (Blue calls people “dude,” and there are puns). A convoluted moral muddles the core artistic question—whether a whole book can be gray—and instead highlights a trite message about working together.

Low grade. (glossary) (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5420-4340-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Two Lions

Review Posted Online: July 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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