All the photos are diverting, but the conceptual premise stumbles.

A WORLD OF OPPOSITES

Pairs of bold, quirky photographs from varied locations illustrate contrasting concepts.

An aerial-photography specialist focuses on waterscapes, landscapes, and animals, sometimes unusually enhanced. Settings (named under each photo) include Bolivia, the Caribbean, the Pacific, Antarctica, and a hotel in Palm Springs, California, complete with fantastical animal inhabitants, previously featured in Malin’s Be Our Guest! (2018). The most intriguing photos are of llamas in Salar de Uyuni, a Bolivian salt flat. The woolly animals have traditional wool tassels hanging from their ears and, sometimes, quite untraditional large balloons surrounding their bodies. Two llamas, one black, one white, each covered in matching balloons, dominate the jacket. The spectacular large balloons show up again inside the book, where one llama with pink balloons stands opposite two others, also draped in pink. The intense blue sky, the white salt surface, and the pink balloons are striking, but the concept words “ALONE” and “TOGETHER” in embossed block capital letters across the photos’ middles distract from the strong visuals. Unfortunately this same layout is used throughout. While many coupled images artfully represent the simple concepts being introduced, others don’t work as well. Two flamingos labeled with the word “FEATHERS” are next to a tiger labeled “FUR.” An elephant surrounded by tall, balloon-festooned shrubs opposite a bunch of balloons rising in the salt flat, labeled “HEAVY” and “LIGHT,” respectively, is positively opaque.

All the photos are diverting, but the conceptual premise stumbles. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: May 5, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4197-3970-5

Page Count: 48

Publisher: abramsappleseed

Review Posted Online: Feb. 26, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

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Uncomplicated fun that sets readers up for the earlier, more-complicated books to come.

LITTLE BLUE TRUCK'S SPRINGTIME

From the Little Blue Truck series

Little Blue Truck and his pal Toad meet friends old and new on a springtime drive through the country.

This lift-the-flap, interactive entry in the popular Little Blue Truck series lacks the narrative strength and valuable life lessons of the original Little Blue Truck (2008) and its sequel, Little Blue Truck Leads the Way (2009). Both of those books, published for preschoolers rather than toddlers, featured rich storylines, dramatic, kinetic illustrations, and simple but valuable life lessons—the folly of taking oneself too seriously, the importance of friends, and the virtue of taking turns, for example. At about half the length and with half as much text as the aforementioned titles, this volume is a much quicker read. Less a story than a vernal celebration, the book depicts a bucolic drive through farmland and encounters with various animals and their young along the way. Beautifully rendered two-page tableaux teem with butterflies, blossoms, and vibrant pastel, springtime colors. Little Blue greets a sheep standing in the door of a barn: “Yoo-hoo, Sheep! / Beep-beep! / What’s new?” Folding back the durable, card-stock flap reveals the barn’s interior and an adorable set of twin lambs. Encounters with a duck and nine ducklings, a cow with a calf, a pig with 10 (!) piglets, a family of bunnies, and a chicken with a freshly hatched chick provide ample opportunity for counting and vocabulary work.

Uncomplicated fun that sets readers up for the earlier, more-complicated books to come. (Board book. 1-4)

Pub Date: Jan. 2, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-544-93809-0

Page Count: 16

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: March 4, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2018

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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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