A pleasant-enough diversion.

OLD KING COLE

What can all the characters in Mother Goose's world do when the reveler in chief runs out of revelry?

Trapani begins with the familiar first verse of the nursery rhyme, with the trio of fiddlers (cats in green tunics walking on two legs) trailing behind the unmistakably merry monarch. But once he settles into his throne, Cole can't stay awake for the King Cole Ball. Some of his problem is the sweetness of the fiddlers' serenade, but also his party preparations have simply worn him out. Mother Hubbard and her dog, the Three Little Pigs, Little Boy Blue (depicted with brown skin and curly black hair), and Bo Peep (drawn with Asian facial characteristics) each have a try, but to no avail. All the Mother Goose guests pace the floor in distress, until the Queen of Hearts waltzes in with a tray to save the day. The heavenly aroma of her heart-shaped tarts jolts the king from slumber, and the taste puts him back in a party mood. Trapani's paintings, in watercolor, Acryla gouache, ink, and colored pencil, are bright and delightful, but they are busy enough that large groups will find distinguishing them a challenge. The story itself is amusing but does not stand out in the Mother Goose crowd. Music and extended lyrics for "Old King Cole" fill the last page.

A pleasant-enough diversion. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Aug. 4, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-58089-632-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Charlesbridge

Review Posted Online: June 6, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2015

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An upbeat introduction to a Hindu festival.

IT'S DIWALI!

Riffing on the nursery rhyme “One, Two, Buckle My Shoe,” this picture book explores Diwali celebrations in India.

The story opens, “One, two… // mehndi for you.” Mehndi is defined below the text, and a colorful illustration depicts people showing off the mehndi on their hands. Once the book reaches 10, it starts counting backward (“Ten, nine” / fireworks shine”), continuing the rhyming pattern. The text defines Hindi words such as rangoli (“colorful designs made on the floor or ground using chalk and flowers”), diya (traditional clay lamps), and jalebi (a sweet made from deep-frying dough) as well as potentially unfamiliar English words, such as rickshaw. While not all the words are directly related to Diwali, most are common vocabulary used in northern India, rendering the book a child-friendly introduction to South Asian Hindu culture. Lush illustrations in a joyful, vibrant palette convey the feelings of India’s festive season and feature characters with a variety of skin tones but mostly similar hair textures. While the authors’ note acknowledges India’s linguistic diversity—pointing out the holiday’s alternative spelling of Deepavali—it calls Diwali an “Indian” holiday when it is actually a Hindu holiday. (This book was reviewed digitally; the review has been updated for accuracy.) 

An upbeat introduction to a Hindu festival. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Sept. 6, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-5344-5365-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Beach Lane/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Sept. 28, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2022

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As a book, mildly satisfying; as a greeting card, rather expensive.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU!

A cheery board book that plays the familiar tune.

Anthropomorphic animals, digitally illustrated with a vintage style and palette, play different musical instruments as they make their ways to a cafe to celebrate Otter’s birthday. There’s not much of a story arc in its 10 pages, which lends the book a greeting-card feel. Each spread highlights an animal or two and their respective instruments: Bear plays a flute, Badger strums a guitar, Wolf drives by with a bass in its truck, Cat plays violin, and birthday boy Otter hears Moose on the piano. Press a shiny musical note in each illustration, and the book plays an instrumental line from the familiar song. The quality of the recordings is quite good, capturing the sound and tone of each instrument, and the culminating spread is an ensemble playing the full song. A “glowing candle” is promoted on the cover along with the book’s musical feature, and it appears on a cake on the final spread when all the animals from the prior pages gather to celebrate Otter’s special day. In a potentially confusing turn, Wolf holds the cake instead of playing bass (a fox has stepped in), and an opossum and a rabbit play tambourine, though they weren’t pictured with instruments earlier.

As a book, mildly satisfying; as a greeting card, rather expensive. (Board book. 3-5)

Pub Date: April 10, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-7636-9943-7

Page Count: 10

Publisher: Nosy Crow

Review Posted Online: Feb. 13, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2018

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