Meticulously designed, from its art direction to the print and finish on the pages, this is a thoughtful and...

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A LONG WAY AWAY

Cleverly designed and perfectly executed, this dynamic two-way story across space, land and sea offers multidimensional adventure and possibilities. 

Begin on one side, and it’s a journey down, away from the familiar into the deep. A warm embrace greets readers before a cephalopodlike alien descends, weaving past planets and stars on its topsy-turvy trajectory toward Earth. The appealing creature zooms by planes and towns, sea life and subs, before reaching the deep underwater world to sleep. Begin on the other side, and the alien rises from slumber, its trajectory upward toward heart and home. The illustrations recall Matisse, with their simulation of paper cut-outs, celestial quality and use of a limited four-color palette, which Viva proves can still create infinite possibilities. J. Otto Seibold and Gary Baseman also come to mind, for the work’s graphic nature and loose, organic stylizations. But Viva is his own master, as he uses the constraints of the two-way format to great effect. Readers will be taken on a cosmic odyssey, while encouraged to experience a book in multiple ways—to think of a story as an interpretation, not an edict.

Meticulously designed, from its art direction to the print and finish on the pages, this is a thoughtful and thought-provoking work . (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: April 9, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-316-22196-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Feb. 13, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2013

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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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It’s a bit hard to dance, or count, to this beat.

ONE MORE DINO ON THE FLOOR

Dinos that love to move and groove get children counting from one to 10—and perhaps moving to the beat.

Beginning with a solo bop by a female dino (she has eyelashes, doncha know), the dinosaur dance party begins. Each turn of the page adds another dino and a change in the dance genre: waltz, country line dancing, disco, limbo, square dancing, hip-hop, and swing. As the party would be incomplete without the moonwalk, the T. Rex does the honors…and once they are beyond their initial panic at his appearance, the onlookers cheer wildly. The repeated refrain on each spread allows for audience participation, though it doesn’t easily trip off the tongue: “They hear a swish. / What’s this? / One more? / One more dino on the floor.” Some of the prehistoric beasts are easily identifiable—pterodactyl, ankylosaurus, triceratops—but others will be known only to the dino-obsessed; none are identified, other than T-Rex. Packed spreads filled with psychedelically colored dinos sporting blocks of color, stripes, or polka dots (and infectious looks of joy) make identification even more difficult, to say nothing of counting them. Indeed, this fails as a counting primer: there are extra animals (and sometimes a grumpy T-Rex) in the backgrounds, and the next dino to join the party pokes its head into the frame on the page before. Besides all that, most kids won’t get the dance references.

It’s a bit hard to dance, or count, to this beat. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: March 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-8075-1598-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Whitman

Review Posted Online: Jan. 20, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2016

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