Ironically, whereas Yolen takes time off from her self-consciously exquisite fairy tales for the sort of precious but diminutive bauble you'd associate with Zalben, the illustrator suits her style to Yolen's usual elegance. Though it looks longer, the text is mainly a series of ten couplets—from "One little mouse in great distress/ Looks all over for a floor-length dress" to "Ten little porcupines set up a racket,/ As they fight for the velvet evening jacket"—in which various small creatures search, sort, clamor and wail for specific items of clothing to wear to the butterfly ball for which a winged little elfin figure delivers invitations. But as each new set of animals is introduced all the previous lines are reiterated, and Yolen adds two final lines bringing them all to their destination: "Knock knock. . . Who's come to call?/WE HAVE! We've all come to the Butterfly Ball." Zalben's delicate fine line animals scurry in preparation—and cavort on arrival—within, amidst and upon rainbow colored swirls, patterened numerals and sheer decoration. Her watercolors do clothe the whole enterprise in finery well suited to such an occasion; the question is whether Yolen offers enough entertainment to justify the fancy dress.

Pub Date: March 1, 1976

ISBN: 1563976927

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Parents Magazine Press

Review Posted Online: May 11, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1976


A substantive and affirming addition to any collection.

An impressive array of names, events, and concepts from Black history are introduced in this alphabet book for early-elementary readers.

From A for anthem (“a banner of song / that wraps us in hope, lets us know we belong”) to Z for zenith (“the top of that mountain King said we would reach”), this picture book is a journey through episodes, ideas, and personalities that represent a wide range of Black experiences. Some spreads celebrate readers themselves, like B for beautiful (“I’m talking to you!”); others celebrate accomplishments, such as E for explore (Matthew Henson, Mae Jemison), or experiences, like G for the Great Migration. The rhyming verses are light on the tongue, making the reading smooth and soothing. The brightly colored, folk art–style illustrations offer vibrant scenes of historical and contemporary Black life, with common people and famous people represented in turn. Whether reading straight through and poring over each page or flipping about to look at the refreshing scenes full of brown and black faces, readers will feel pride and admiration for the resilience and achievements of Black people and a call to participate in the “unfinished…American tale.” Endnotes clarify terms and figures, and a resource list includes child-friendly books, websites, museums, and poems.

A substantive and affirming addition to any collection. (Informational picture book. 6-11)

Pub Date: Dec. 8, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5235-0749-8

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Workman

Review Posted Online: Sept. 28, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2020


From the I Like To Read series

Simple, encouraging text, charming photographs, straightforward, unpretentious diversity, and adorable animals—what’s not to...

This entry-level early reader/picture book pairs children with farm animals.

Using a simple, effective template—a full-page photograph on the recto page and a bordered spot photo above the text on the verso—Rotner delivers an amiable picture book that presents racially and ethnically diverse kids interacting (mostly in the cuddling department) with the adult and baby animals typically found on a farm. Chickens, chicks, cats, kittens, dogs, puppies, pigs, piglets, cows, and calves are all represented. While a couple of double-page spreads show the larger adult animals—pigs and cows—without a child, most of the rest portray a delighted child hugging a compliant critter. The text, simple and repetitive, changes only the name for the animal depicted in the photo on that spread: “I like the cat”; “I like the piglet.” In this way, reading comprehension for new readers is supported in an enjoyable, appealing way, since the photo of the animal reinforces the new word. It’s hard to go wrong combining cute kids with adorable animals, but special kudos must be given for the very natural way Rotner has included diversity—it’s especially gratifying to see diversity normalized and validated early, at the same time that reading comprehension is taught.

Simple, encouraging text, charming photographs, straightforward, unpretentious diversity, and adorable animals—what’s not to like? (Picture book/early reader. 2-6)

Pub Date: Aug. 15, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-8234-3833-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2017

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