BEFORE & AFTER

Older preschoolers maturing from concrete thinking to more abstract thought will find this a hoot.

Whimsical illustrations challenge young readers to go beyond the obvious.

Bold artwork heavily outlined in black depicts a variety of “before” situations followed by their “after” counterparts on the following pages. Wit and humor pervade the different situations presented. A tatty-looking cat transforms into a sparkling clean cat. A brown-skinned child goes from long, black “before” hair to buzz-cut “after” hair to long, black hair again “way after.” The age-old question of what came first, the chicken or the egg, also makes an appearance here. A double-gatefold spread of a hair-raising roller-coaster ride will have readers laughing. And the consequences of a white-skinned girl staying out in the sun too long? An interesting tan, to say the least. One mildly provocative situation presents two people—one white, one black—who appear both to be pregnant. On the following page the white woman has lost her belly, and the black one is holding a brown infant. On closer inspection though, is the black pregnant-looking person perhaps a man—there are no breasts—and the father of the newborn? This and all the other situations should spark interesting conversations between children and their adult readers.

Older preschoolers maturing from concrete thinking to more abstract thought will find this a hoot. (Board book. 3-5)

Pub Date: March 13, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-7148-7408-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Phaidon

Review Posted Online: May 23, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2017

YOUR BABY'S FIRST WORD WILL BE DADA

Plotless and pointless, the book clearly exists only because its celebrity author wrote it.

A succession of animal dads do their best to teach their young to say “Dada” in this picture-book vehicle for Fallon.

A grumpy bull says, “DADA!”; his calf moos back. A sad-looking ram insists, “DADA!”; his lamb baas back. A duck, a bee, a dog, a rabbit, a cat, a mouse, a donkey, a pig, a frog, a rooster, and a horse all fail similarly, spread by spread. A final two-spread sequence finds all of the animals arrayed across the pages, dads on the verso and children on the recto. All the text prior to this point has been either iterations of “Dada” or animal sounds in dialogue bubbles; here, narrative text states, “Now everybody get in line, let’s say it together one more time….” Upon the turn of the page, the animal dads gaze round-eyed as their young across the gutter all cry, “DADA!” (except the duckling, who says, “quack”). Ordóñez's illustrations have a bland, digital look, compositions hardly varying with the characters, although the pastel-colored backgrounds change. The punch line fails from a design standpoint, as the sudden, single-bubble chorus of “DADA” appears to be emanating from background features rather than the baby animals’ mouths (only some of which, on close inspection, appear to be open). It also fails to be funny.

Plotless and pointless, the book clearly exists only because its celebrity author wrote it. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: June 9, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-250-00934-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Review Posted Online: April 14, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2015

THE CRAYONS LOVE OUR PLANET

A droll exploration of color and nature—and a welcome reminder to safeguard our planet.

Daywalt and Jeffers’ wildly popular Crayons have an important ecological message.

Though climate change is never mentioned, the book nevertheless gently introduces responsibility for Planet Earth. As in previous titles, the main text is in a large black font, while the Crayons’ dialogue is presented in a smaller, gray font. Blue begins by showing off a blue-tinged image of the globe (land masses are depicted in a darker hue). Green takes over: “Yay, Trees! I did those!” Beige breaks in, pointing to a tiny wheat plant next to two large trees: “And wheat! I did the WHEAT!” Beige puts wheat front and center throughout—even on White’s drawing of mountaintop ice caps. When Red, Yellow, and Orange display drawings of various fruits, Beige interjects, “And WHEAT. Wheat is totally fruit.” Diplomatic Purple politely responds, “Um. NO. It is not.” Purple attempts to dissuade self-important Beige, but it all ends happily as the Crayons join hands and proclaim: “Our planet has all of us too, in many shapes, colors, and sizes.” Beige and Purple reconcile, with Beige adding, “And it’s our job to keep the planet safe.” Young children will easily absorb this positive message. Although these characters have had many outings, their quiet humor still succeeds, and fans will definitely want this new entry.

A droll exploration of color and nature—and a welcome reminder to safeguard our planet. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Feb. 13, 2024

ISBN: 9780593621080

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: Nov. 18, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2023

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