Probably more for adults than for the children in their lives.



A young child develops a love for vocabulary.

Ava tells readers, right away, “I love words.” With bright chalk the white, pigtailed writer scrawls basic words like “yes,” “happy,” “cat,” and “rain” in green, blue, yellow, and pink. The narrator takes readers through the process of language acquisition, first as an infant who “started with no words,” expressing baby talk like “oooh eee gaga yaaa” while absorbing real words (“book / uh-oh / dog / no”), finally saying “ba!” while pointing to a ball. As the story proceeds, Ava gains more and more language, learning to talk “to friends in marvelous ways,” culminating in writerly ambitions; the last page shows the pink-dressed, cowboy-booted child holding taped-together pages entitled “Ava’s Book,” reading aloud to an assortment of toys and stuffed animals. The prose rhymes loosely, bouncing ahead in a rhythm that is a pleasure to read aloud. Unfortunately, while the miracle of language may be astonishing to an adult watching it, it is perhaps less than enthralling for a child going through it. With the exception of “marvelous,” all the words used are short and simple, appropriate for young children but obscuring the larger goal of reveling in a love of language. Ava, who is paper-white, is a pleasant-enough narrator, but there’s little here to hook child readers beyond, perhaps, pure identification.

Probably more for adults than for the children in their lives. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 27, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-290780-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: June 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2020

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet


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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Between its autumn and field-trip themes and the fact that not many books start countdowns from 20, this may find its way to...


A class visits the pumpkin patch, giving readers a chance to count down from 20.

At the farm, Farmer Mixenmatch gives them the tour, which includes a petting zoo, an educational area, a corn maze and a tractor ride to the pumpkin patch. Holub’s text cleverly though not always successfully rhymes each child’s name within the line: “ ‘Eighteen kids get on our bus,’ says Russ. / ‘But someone’s late,’ says Kate. / ‘Wait for me!’ calls Kiri.” Pumpkins at the tops of pages contain the numerals that match the text, allowing readers to pair them with the orange-colored, spelled-out numbers. Some of the objects proffered to count are a bit of a stretch—“Guess sixteen things we’ll see,” count 14 cars that arrived at the farm before the bus—but Smith’s artwork keeps things easy to count, except for a challenging page that asks readers to search for 17 orange items (answers are at the bottom, upside down). Strangely, Holub includes one page with nothing to count—a sign marks “15 Pumpkin Street.” Charming, multicultural round-faced characters and lots of detail encourage readers to go back through the book scouring pages for the 16 things the kids guessed they might see. Endpapers featuring a smattering of pumpkin facts round out the text.

Between its autumn and field-trip themes and the fact that not many books start countdowns from 20, this may find its way to many library shelves. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: July 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-8075-6660-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Whitman

Review Posted Online: May 16, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2012

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet