This intergenerational lesson smoothly encourages readers to share a girl’s gratitude for the natural world.


A grumpy girl learns an important lesson from her grandfather about a special tree in this picture book.

After a bad day at school, Lydia joins her grandfather sitting under a fig tree. He describes how he spent his day pruning and caring for the tree. Lydia can’t quite understand putting so much effort into looking after the tree: “Why go to all of that trouble for something that just stands there not doing much of anything?”  But as her grandfather recounts the way the tree has sheltered him over the years, the delicious food made from its fruit, and the beauty it brings to the yard in every season, Lydia realizes how special it is. And as she develops an admiration for the tree, she discovers that she no longer feels grouchy. Lonczak’s meditative text uses a simple enough vocabulary for independent readers to peruse comfortably. The slow pace and focus on appreciation make it a good choice for bedtime or gratitude-centered classroom reading. Varjotie’s soft-edged illustrations, which feature cartoonish animals and light-skinned humans against painterly backgrounds, match the relaxed tone. Lydia’s facial expressions seem to let go of her grumpiness much earlier in the images than the text, but the connection she feels to her grandfather, who helps her learn to really see the tree, comes through clearly. A reference to Lydia’s Spanish-speaking father in the soothing tale pays tribute to mixed-heritage families.

This intergenerational lesson smoothly encourages readers to share a girl’s gratitude for the natural world.

Pub Date: Feb. 16, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-73536-250-2

Page Count: 34

Publisher: IngramSpark

Review Posted Online: Nov. 25, 2020

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Plotless and pointless, the book clearly exists only because its celebrity author wrote it.


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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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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