Parents with tantrum-prone youngsters may find a useful tool in this lesson-heavy tale.

PENELOPE WINDPIPES

A screaming tot learns that staying calm helps her win more friends in this picture book.

Penelope has the nickname Windpipes because her voice—when she’s screaming—is so loud the neighbors can hear her “10 blocks away!” Children run from her, and her grandfather turns down his hearing aid while visiting. When Penelope loses her voice in a case of laryngitis, she notices sounds that her screaming had covered up: “Penelope liked these sounds and wondered how long they’d been there.” Following the example of a new friend who remains calm in the face of teasing, Penelope learns to control her temper, giving her a chance to enjoy things she’d missed. Psychologist Lonczak’s previous books, such as Gus Becomes a Big Brother (2019), also have focused messages, but there’s no subtlety in this text-dense tale. Penelope’s tantrums are bad for everyone, and being tranquil instead of boisterous allows others to see how kind she is. The dichotomy leaves no room for behavior in the middle: Even when playing, Penelope accepts that “superheroes never scream and cry.” There’s also an unfortunate correlation between Penelope’s love of princesses and her poor behavior while her “tomboy” friend demonstrates good habits. In addition, Penelope’s brother is never scolded for egging her on. Still, parents with unruly children may find helpful tips here. And Vasconcelos’ kid-friendly cartoon illustrations use plenty of pastels to create detailed backgrounds and depict a diverse neighborhood.

Parents with tantrum-prone youngsters may find a useful tool in this lesson-heavy tale.

Pub Date: Feb. 14, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-73446-872-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: IngramSpark

Review Posted Online: April 15, 2020

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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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