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WHAT WILL GROW?

Rich with organic material, this choice is as warm and patient as the ground that nurtures the seeds to new life.

Pine cones. Acorns. Dandelion fuzz. Sunflower seeds. Children are delighted by these natural treasures. But what will become of these little nuggets of life?

Ward and Ghahremani follow up their book What Will Hatch? (2013) with this second rhyming and riddling book on seeds. Hand-lettered descriptions provide bare clues: “Shiny, brown. Bumpy crown. / What will grow?” Gouache-on-wood illustrations in an earthy palette on double-page spreads provide visual hints. In the case of the preceding clue, squirrels hold large, brown acorns underneath the riddle on the verso. The answer page on the recto shows more squirrels skittering around a labeled oak tree with its distinctive leaves. Some of the riddles are intentionally vague, demanding that readers examine the pictures. Four of the answer pages are pull-out gatefolds that provide extra surprises. The page with the tall sunflowers opens up, while the page with the orange carrots growing below ground opens down. (Due to this unpredictable opening scheme, adult assistance may be required to reduce damage to the pages.) Yet beyond the riddles, there is a consistency in the content, the muted colors, even the satisfyingly thick recycled paper on which it is printed that reinforces the philosophy of this nature book. Endnotes provide details on the 13 seeds and their sowing times as well as the life cycle from seed to plant.

Rich with organic material, this choice is as warm and patient as the ground that nurtures the seeds to new life. (Informational picture book. 2-5)

Pub Date: Feb. 14, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-68119-030-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: Nov. 1, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2016

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LITTLE BLUE TRUCK'S CHRISTMAS

Little Blue’s fans will enjoy the animal sounds and counting opportunities, but it’s the sparkling lights on the truck’s own...

The sturdy Little Blue Truck is back for his third adventure, this time delivering Christmas trees to his band of animal pals.

The truck is decked out for the season with a Christmas wreath that suggests a nose between headlights acting as eyeballs. Little Blue loads up with trees at Toad’s Trees, where five trees are marked with numbered tags. These five trees are counted and arithmetically manipulated in various ways throughout the rhyming story as they are dropped off one by one to Little Blue’s friends. The final tree is reserved for the truck’s own use at his garage home, where he is welcomed back by the tree salestoad in a neatly circular fashion. The last tree is already decorated, and Little Blue gets a surprise along with readers, as tiny lights embedded in the illustrations sparkle for a few seconds when the last page is turned. Though it’s a gimmick, it’s a pleasant surprise, and it fits with the retro atmosphere of the snowy country scenes. The short, rhyming text is accented with colored highlights, red for the animal sounds and bright green for the numerical words in the Christmas-tree countdown.

Little Blue’s fans will enjoy the animal sounds and counting opportunities, but it’s the sparkling lights on the truck’s own tree that will put a twinkle in a toddler’s eyes. (Picture book. 2-5)

Pub Date: Sept. 23, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-544-32041-3

Page Count: 24

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 11, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2014

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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

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