Too clever for kids just learning the alphabet and not clever enough for kids looking for more.

THE OLPHABET

"O" NO! AN ALPHABET REVOLT

This alphabet book examines the ABCs from a middle letter’s perspective.

Why does A always get to go first? It’s an interesting concept that O, the 15th letter of the alphabet and narrator of the tale, ponders. O is a natural replacement: They’re easy to make, and the ABC song, er…OBC song sounds, well, “omazing.” As O contemplates the change, other thoughts run through their head. Maybe the olphabet should be a circle of letters instead of a line. That doesn’t leave anyone behind (we’re looking at you, Z!), and it’s a shape that really speaks to O. After working through various scenarios, however, O arrives abruptly at the conclusion that they’re happy where they are. The concept of the picture book is amusing, but the follow-through is uneven. Some letters, when considered by O, are introduced with words they begin (“B can be Boring, Bossy, Bad”), but this is not done systematically or consistently. The illustrations add little to the story. The physical placement of letters on some pages is odd, compositions fighting with alphabetical expectations. For example, an early view of the first few letters is backward, with A on the right at the head of a line of thirsty letters at a lemonade stand (mystifyingly staffed by S). (This book was reviewed digitally with 10-by-18-inch double-page spreads viewed at actual size.)

Too clever for kids just learning the alphabet and not clever enough for kids looking for more. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: May 18, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-7624-9820-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Running Press Kids

Review Posted Online: March 31, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2021

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As ephemeral as a valentine.

LOVE FROM THE CRAYONS

Daywalt and Jeffers’ wandering crayons explore love.

Each double-page spread offers readers a vision of one of the anthropomorphic crayons on the left along with the statement “Love is [color].” The word love is represented by a small heart in the appropriate color. Opposite, childlike crayon drawings explain how that color represents love. So, readers learn, “love is green. / Because love is helpful.” The accompanying crayon drawing depicts two alligators, one holding a recycling bin and the other tossing a plastic cup into it, offering readers two ways of understanding green. Some statements are thought-provoking: “Love is white. / Because sometimes love is hard to see,” reaches beyond the immediate image of a cat’s yellow eyes, pink nose, and black mouth and whiskers, its white face and body indistinguishable from the paper it’s drawn on, to prompt real questions. “Love is brown. / Because sometimes love stinks,” on the other hand, depicted by a brown bear standing next to a brown, squiggly turd, may provoke giggles but is fundamentally a cheap laugh. Some of the color assignments have a distinctly arbitrary feel: Why is purple associated with the imagination and pink with silliness? Fans of The Day the Crayons Quit (2013) hoping for more clever, metaliterary fun will be disappointed by this rather syrupy read.

As ephemeral as a valentine. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Dec. 24, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5247-9268-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Penguin Workshop

Review Posted Online: Feb. 2, 2021

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A welcome addition to autumnal storytelling—and to tales of traditional enemies overcoming their history.

THE SCARECROW

Ferry and the Fans portray a popular seasonal character’s unlikely friendship.

Initially, the protagonist is shown in his solitary world: “Scarecrow stands alone and scares / the fox and deer, / the mice and crows. / It’s all he does. It’s all he knows.” His presence is effective; the animals stay outside the fenced-in fields, but the omniscient narrator laments the character’s lack of friends or places to go. Everything changes when a baby crow falls nearby. Breaking his pole so he can bend, the scarecrow picks it up, placing the creature in the bib of his overalls while singing a lullaby. Both abandon natural tendencies until the crow learns to fly—and thus departs. The aabb rhyme scheme flows reasonably well, propelling the narrative through fall, winter, and spring, when the mature crow returns with a mate to build a nest in the overalls bib that once was his home. The Fan brothers capture the emotional tenor of the seasons and the main character in their panoramic pencil, ballpoint, and digital compositions. Particularly poignant is the close-up of the scarecrow’s burlap face, his stitched mouth and leaf-rimmed head conveying such sadness after his companion goes. Some adults may wonder why the scarecrow seems to have only partial agency, but children will be tuned into the problem, gratified by the resolution.

A welcome addition to autumnal storytelling—and to tales of traditional enemies overcoming their history. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-247576-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2019

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