Minor missteps aside, consider this a one-stop shopping source when zoo and construction needs must be simultaneously met.

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CONSTRUCTION ZOO

The hitherto-unseen alliance of dual toddler obsessions (construction equipment and zoo animals) comes together at last.

When a team of brassy construction vehicles drives through the local zoo, the animal residents aren’t quite sure what to think. Yet even the most preliminary investigations reveal that there’s something special about these trucks. The rhino finds a temperamental soul mate in the bulldozer, the monkeys play with the wrecking ball, and the giant tortoise sees a kindred spirit in the dump truck. It isn’t long before the animals are aiding their newfound friends. Thorne manages to play completely fair with the construction/zoo pairings, coming up with occasionally inspired duos, as with the giraffe and the crane or the elephant and the excavator. Graphic elements have a brightly colored geometry to their designs. The angular art has an almost structural simplicity, but it’s a pity the illustrator failed to show any changes between the zoo before the construction and afterward. Though readers are assured at the end that “now the zoo is twice the fun,” it’s not at all clear how this might be. From the standpoint of the text, its bounce makes this ideal storytime fare, and it rhymes perfectly, with the possible exception of an awkward stanza near the end.

Minor missteps aside, consider this a one-stop shopping source when zoo and construction needs must be simultaneously met. (Picture book. 2-5)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-8075-1282-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Whitman

Review Posted Online: July 24, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2018

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

YOUR BABY'S FIRST WORD WILL BE DADA

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 15, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2015

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Parents of toddlers starting school or day care should seek separation-anxiety remedies elsewhere, and fans of the original...

A KISSING HAND FOR CHESTER RACCOON

From the Kissing Hand series

A sweetened, condensed version of the best-selling picture book, The Kissing Hand.

As in the original, Chester Raccoon is nervous about attending Owl’s night school (raccoons are nocturnal). His mom kisses him on the paw and reminds him, “With a Kissing Hand… / We’ll never be apart.” The text boils the story down to its key elements, causing this version to feel rushed. Gone is the list of fun things Chester will get to do at school. Fans of the original may be disappointed that this board edition uses a different illustrator. Gibson’s work is equally sentimental, but her renderings are stiff and flat in comparison to the watercolors of Harper and Leak. Very young readers will probably not understand that Owl’s tree, filled with opossums, a squirrel, a chipmunk and others, is supposed to be a school.

Parents of toddlers starting school or day care should seek separation-anxiety remedies elsewhere, and fans of the original shouldn’t look to this version as replacement for their page-worn copies. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: April 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-933718-77-4

Page Count: 14

Publisher: Tanglewood Publishing

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2014

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