A pleasant-enough diversion.

READ REVIEW

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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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/Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Feb. 13, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2018

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Fox’s inimitable rhyming text and Horacek’s buoyant illustrations offer youngsters another winning choice.

BONNIE & BEN RHYME AGAIN

Siblings Bonnie and Ben show off the numerous nursery rhymes they know while they walk with friend and mentor Skinny Doug.

When they reach a familiar hill, they launch into “Jack and Jill.” The sight of a couple of sheep ahead prompts a recital of “Little Bo Peep.” A plum tree they happen upon brings on “Little Jack Horner.” And a hairy black spider hanging from a lamppost elicits “Little Miss Muffet.” After the stars come out on their return home, “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” precedes their going to bed, all rhymed out. Fox and Horacek previously teamed up for the effervescent Where is the Green Sheep (2004) and do so again to create a delightful narrative anchored by a repeated rhymed refrain. Between each traditional verse Skinny Doug exclaims: “I love it, I love it! / Well done, and hurrah! / Can you tell me another? / How clever you are!” (This will read as assonance in most parts of the U.S. but is likely a perfect rhyme in Fox’s native Australia.) The colorfully stylized cartoon artwork, familiar from the duo’s previous work, gives this jaunty, rambunctious outing extra flair as the nursery characters, painted in an array of skin hues, join in to trail Bonnie, Ben, and Skinny Doug (all white-presenting).

Fox’s inimitable rhyming text and Horacek’s buoyant illustrations offer youngsters another winning choice. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Feb. 11, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5344-5352-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Beach Lane/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Sept. 29, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2019

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