GIRAFFES CAN’T DANCE

Andreae’s ode to a different drummer stumbles when it preaches about uncovering your own beat, but is ferried along by enough sweet verse and Parker-Rees’s dazzling colors that it almost pulls its own weight. Gerald the giraffe’s legs are too spindly for dancing; they are always buckling at the knees when it comes to the old soft-shoe. And while all the other creatures show some mean moves at the Jungle Dance (“The chimps all did a cha-cha / with a very Latin feel, / and eight baboons then teamed up / for a special Scottish reel”), poor Gerald is hooted off the dance floor before he even has a chance to crumple. As he shuffles homeward, and as he stops to admire the moon, a cricket suggests that “you just need a different song.” So, to the sound of the wind in the trees, Gerald starts to move: a gentle swaying, some circling, and some swishing. Suddenly he commences to belt out Olympic-quality gymnastic moves—“Then he did a backward somersault / and leapt up in the air”—that blows the other animals away. But probably not readers, even the youngest of whom will want to know just why Gerald’s legs didn’t buckle this time, special music or not. Bad enough that in a story about rhythm, the verse doesn’t always scan—but must Gerald strike the Travolta pose? Gerald doesn’t find himself; he simply learns how to mimic. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-439-28719-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Orchard/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2001

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TEN LITTLE FINGERS AND TEN LITTLE TOES

A pleasing poem that celebrates babies around the world. Whether from a remote village or an urban dwelling, a tent or the snow, Fox notes that each “of these babies, / as everyone knows, / had ten little fingers / and ten little toes.” Repeated in each stanza, the verse establishes an easy rhythm. Oxenbury’s charming illustrations depict infants from a variety of ethnicities wearing clothing that invokes a sense of place. Her pencil drawings, with clean watercolor washes laid in, are sweetly similar to those in her early board books (Clap Hands, 1987, etc.). Each stanza introduces a new pair of babies, and the illustrations cleverly incorporate the children from the previous stanzas onto one page, allowing readers to count not only fingers and toes but also babies. The last stanza switches its focus from two children to one “sweet little child,” and reveals the narrator as that baby’s mother. Little readers will take to the repetition and counting, while parents will be moved by the last spread: a sweet depiction of mother and baby. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2008

ISBN: 978-0-15-206057-2

Page Count: 34

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2008

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SAY HELLO!

Today Carmelita visits her Abuela Rosa, but to get there she must walk. Down Ninth Avenue she strolls with her mother and dog. Colorful shops and congenial neighbors greet them along the way, and at each stop Carmelita says hello—in Spanish, Arabic, Hebrew and more. With a friendly “Jambo” for Joseph, a “Bonjour” at the bakery and an affectionate “Hey” for Max and Angel, the pig-tailed girl happily exercises her burgeoning multilingual skills. Her world is a vibrant community, where neighborliness, camaraderie and culture are celebrated. Isadora’s collaged artwork, reminiscent of Ezra Jack Keats, contains lovely edges and imperfections, which abet the feeling of an urban environment. Skillfully, she draws with her scissors, the cut-paper elements acting as her line work. Everything has a texture and surface, and with almost no solid colors, the city street is realized as a real, organic place. Readers will fall for the sociable Carmelita as they proudly learn a range of salutations, and the artist’s rich environment, packed with hidden details and charming animals, will delight readers with each return visit. Simply enchanting. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: April 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-399-25230-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: Dec. 23, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2010

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