A charming celebration of the changing seasons.

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A YEAR AROUND THE GREAT OAK

A massive old oak tree becomes the focus of Benjamin and Anna’s seasonal visits to their cousin.

During fall school break, Benjamin and Anna visit their cousin Robin, who lives at the forest’s edge. When Robin takes them to his favorite oak tree—“nearly three hundred years old”—the autumn leaves are yellow, red and brown. They build a den near the oak, watch hawks and squirrels, and gather mushrooms. Returning in winter, Robin and Benjamin ski to the now-bare oak, where birds and animals shelter. In spring, the old oak has new leaves and is surrounded by bluebells, catkins and cuckoos. Near the pond by the oak, the children see a hare, deer, a fox and badgers, and a frightened Benjamin hides in the oak from wild boar. At summer’s end, Benjamin and Anna return, and there’s a birthday party for the old oak. Realistic, delicate paintings use pattern, light and soft colors to track nature’s transformation of the old oak tree during a single year in an innocent style reminiscent of Barbara Cooney. Simplified natural details of individual plants, birds and animals invite close inspection, while holistic scenes of the oak evoke an idyllic seasonal atmosphere.

A charming celebration of the changing seasons. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: July 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-86315-946-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Floris

Review Posted Online: May 22, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 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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A comical, fresh look at crayons and color

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THE DAY THE CRAYONS QUIT

Duncan wants to draw, but instead of crayons, he finds a stack of letters listing the crayons’ demands in this humorous tale.

Red is overworked, laboring even on holidays. Gray is exhausted from coloring expansive spaces (elephants, rhinos and whales). Black wants to be considered a color-in color, and Peach? He’s naked without his wrapper! This anthropomorphized lot amicably requests workplace changes in hand-lettered writing, explaining their work stoppage to a surprised Duncan. Some are tired, others underutilized, while a few want official titles. With a little creativity and a lot of color, Duncan saves the day. Jeffers delivers energetic and playful illustrations, done in pencil, paint and crayon. The drawings are loose and lively, and with few lines, he makes his characters effectively emote. Clever spreads, such as Duncan’s “white cat in the snow” perfectly capture the crayons’ conundrum, and photographic representations of both the letters and coloring pages offer another layer of texture, lending to the tale’s overall believability.

A comical, fresh look at crayons and color . (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: June 27, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-399-25537-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: April 15, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2013

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