From the Toot & Puddle series

Hobbie’s porkers in play clothes return for a fourth episode, just as winning as the previous three. Finding little Otto Turtle fishing next to a “No Fishing” sign, Puddle offers to teach him the letters of his name. This leads in natural stages to an alphabetical animal gallery that covers not only the 26 letters, but a range of moods from joyful (“Bb. Ballerina blowing bubbles”) to scared (Nn. Not another nightmare!”) to silly (“Zz. Zooming Zucchini”). After practicing, Otto’s not only proudly writing his own name, but Toot’s too (perspicuously noting that, “ ‘Otto is Toot spelled inside out.’ ”) By the end he is even ready to tackle “Puddle.” The art alternates between a fluid, precise cartoon style, and Puddle’s flatter, more childlike technique. Filled with wordplay and giggle-inducing visuals accompanying a sturdy story line, and with plenty of encouraging praise and flattery, this is certain to spur many children into following in Otto’s footsteps as he takes his eager first venture into literacy. Irresistible. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-316-36593-9

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2000


This charming, colorful counting tale of ten little fish runs full-circle. Although the light verse opens and closes with ten fish swimming in a line, page-by-page the line grows shorter as the number of fish diminishes one-by-one. One fish dives down, one gets lost, one hides, and another takes a nap until a single fish remains. Then along comes another fish to form a couple and suddenly a new family of little fish emerges to begin all over. Slick, digitally-created images of brilliant marine flora and fauna give an illusion of underwater depth and silence enhancing the verse’s numerical and theatrical progression. The holistic story bubbles with life’s endless cycle. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2004

ISBN: 0-439-63569-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Blue Sky/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2004


A sweet, poetic ode to autumn.

A rhyming celebration of imagination.

A child with brown skin offers gentle, artful ideas about what to do with autumn leaves. The picture book's idyllic setting seems Northeastern in nature, with deciduous trees shedding leaves, which the child scoops up. Could a leaf from a tree become a hat, a Halloween mask, a hammock, or something else entirely? "It could be a horn that blows, announcing that we're here. // A leafy parade to celebrate our favorite time of year." Rhyme rules the text but isn't forced in the least. Collaged leaves against painted illustrations encourage play and imagination. A nod to winter and spring make this a year-round read. Endpapers with realistic labeled images of leaves provide an injection of information in this otherwise dreamy musing. The backmatter includes instructions on collaging—a meaningful and fun activity that builds upon the text. While there's nothing groundbreaking here, there is opportunity for both learning and whimsy. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A sweet, poetic ode to autumn. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: July 12, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-30659-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Random House Studio

Review Posted Online: April 12, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2022