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: tomorrow

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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THIS BOOK IS GRAY

A gray character tries to write an all-gray book.

The six primary and secondary colors are building a rainbow, each contributing the hue of their own body, and Gray feels forlorn and left out because rainbows contain no gray. So Gray—who, like the other characters, has a solid, triangular body, a doodle-style face, and stick limbs—sets off alone to create “the GRAYest book ever.” His book inside a book shows a peaceful gray cliff house near a gray sea with gentle whitecaps; his three gray characters—hippo, wolf, kitten—wait for their arc to begin. But then the primaries arrive and call the gray scene “dismal, bleak, and gloomy.” The secondaries show up too, and soon everyone’s overrunning Gray’s creation. When Gray refuses to let White and Black participate, astute readers will note the flaw: White and black (the colors) had already been included in the early all-gray spreads. Ironically, Gray’s book within a book displays calm, passable art while the metabook’s unsubtle illustrations and sloppy design make for cramped and crowded pages that are too busy to hold visual focus. The speech-bubble dialogue’s snappy enough (Blue calls people “dude,” and there are puns). A convoluted moral muddles the core artistic question—whether a whole book can be gray—and instead highlights a trite message about working together.

Low grade. (glossary) (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5420-4340-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Two Lions

Review Posted Online: July 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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Share this feel-good title with those who love art and those who can appreciate the confidence-building triumph of solving a...

SKY COLOR

Reynolds returns to a favorite topic—creative self-expression—with characteristic skill in a companion title to The Dot (2003) and Ish (2004).

Marisol is “an artist through and through. So when her teacher told her class they were going to paint a mural…, Marisol couldn’t wait to begin.” As each classmate claims a part of the picture to paint, Marisol declares she will “paint the sky.” But she soon discovers there is no blue paint and wonders what she will do without the vital color. Up to this point, the author uses color sparingly—to accent a poster or painting of Marisol’s or to highlight the paint jars on a desk. During her bus ride home, Marisol wonders what to do and stares out the window. The next spread reveals a vibrant departure from the gray tones of the previous pages. Reds, oranges, lemon yellows and golds streak across the sunset sky. Marisol notices the sky continuing to change in a rainbow of colors…except blue. After awakening from a colorful dream to a gray rainy day, Marisol smiles. With a fervent mixing of paints, she creates a beautiful swirling sky that she describes as “sky color.” Fans of Reynolds will enjoy the succinct language enhanced by illustrations in pen, ink, watercolor, gouache and tea.

Share this feel-good title with those who love art and those who can appreciate the confidence-building triumph of solving a problem on one’s own—creatively. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Aug. 28, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-7636-2345-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: June 20, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2012

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