These captivating llamas deliver. Readers won’t be bored by this board book! (Board book. 5-8)

LLAMAPHONES

What’s this we “See / Sea”? It’s a trendy llama, here to introduce witty pairs of homophones with humor, tactile elements, and a whole lotta flare—erm, flair.

How can a flat green silhouette of a llama be so darned hilarious? Drawn with distinctive perked ears, black dotted eyes, and rectangular body with rounded corners, face deadpan, it’s the very essence of llama. Llama’s hijinks graphically differentiate between the homophones, making them easy to define, such as silvery embossed hoof “prints” trailing behind it on one page and a regally clad “prince” on the other. Coat adds pizzazz as well as contextual clues through a surprising variety of touch-and-feel pieces, among them moving hands on an analog clock marking time on “wait” or a “peek”-aboo baby llama under a lift-the-flap blanket. If it sounds gimmicky, fear not; the book revels in hyperbole. Whether it’s a llama biting a pink “rose,” tango-style, or an emotionless “fairy” with textured, glittery wings, the contrast of flamboyant effects to solemn llamas is audaciously funny. There is a mismatch between format and concept here; homophones are abstract and better suited to older readers than the tot set. Still, there’s a scarcity of quality books about homophones, and the sophisticated humor should beguile big kids. Oversized trim also suits that older audience.

These captivating llamas deliver. Readers won’t be bored by this board book! (Board book. 5-8)

Pub Date: March 6, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4197-2827-3

Page Count: 36

Publisher: Abrams Appleseed

Review Posted Online: March 27, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2018

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Sweet—and savory.

THE KEEPER OF WILD WORDS

When a girl visits her grandmother, a writer and “grand friend,” she is seeking something special to share at show and tell on the first day of school.

Before Brook can explain, Mimi expresses concern that certain words describing the natural world will disappear if someone doesn’t care for and use them. (An author’s note explains the author’s motivation: She had read of the removal of 100 words about outdoor phenomena from the Oxford Junior Dictionary.) The duo sets out to search for and experience the 19 words on Mimi’s list, from “acorn” and “buttercup” to “violet” and “willow.” Kloepper’s soft illustrations feature green and brown earth tones that frame the white, matte pages; bursts of red, purple, and other spot colors enliven the scenes. Both Mimi and Brook are depicted as white. The expedition is described in vivid language, organized as free verse in single sentences or short paragraphs. Key words are printed in color in a larger display type and capital letters. Sensory details allow the protagonist to hear, see, smell, taste, and hold the wild: “ ‘Quick! Make a wish!’ said Mimi, / holding out a DANDELION, / fairy dust sitting on a stem. / ‘Blow on it and the seeds will fly. / Your tiny wishes in the air.’ ” It’s a day of wonder, with a touch of danger and a solution to Brook’s quest. The last page forms an envelope for readers’ own vocabulary collections.

Sweet—and savory. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: March 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4521-7073-2

Page Count: 62

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2020

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Cute and brave—gee, Rot’s spud-tacular!

ROT, THE BRAVEST IN THE WORLD!

A “scaredy-spud” puts on his brave face.

All “mutant potatoes” love mud. Mud is good for playing games, eating, and even sleeping. But few taters have more tender feelings toward muck than Rot. À la Pete the Cat, Rot celebrates mud in song: “Mud between my toes! / Mud in my nose! / Mud is GREAT / wherever it GOES!” When Rot’s big brother, Snot, tells Rot about the Squirm that lives “deep down in the mushy muck,” his love quickly turns to fear. But he doesn’t give up! Instead, Rot imagines himself in various disguises to work up courage. There’s “Super Spud” (a superhero), “Sir Super Rot, the Brave and Bold” (a superhero-knight), and even “Sir Super Rot the Pigtato” (a, um, superhero-knight-pig-potato). The disguises are one thing, but, deep down, is Rot really brave enough to face the Squirm? Readers wooed by Rot’s charm in Rot: The Cutest in the World (2017) will laugh out loud at this well-paced encore—and it’s not just because of the butt cracks. Clanton creates a winning dynamic, balancing Rot’s earnestness, witty dialogue, and an omniscient, slightly melodramatic narrator. The cartoon illustrations were created using watercolors, colored pencils, digital collage, and—brilliantly—potato stamps. Clanton’s reliance on earth tones makes for some clever, surprising page turns when the palette is broken.

Cute and brave—gee, Rot’s spud-tacular! (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: June 16, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4814-6764-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

Did you like this book?

more