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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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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Laugh-out-loud fun for all.

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NANETTE'S BAGUETTE

Hilarious complications ensue when Nanette’s mom gives her the responsibility of buying the family baguette.

She sets out on her errand and encounters lots of distractions along the way as she meets and greets Georgette, Suzette, Bret with his clarinet, Mr. Barnett and his pet, Antoinette. But she remembers her mission and buys the baguette from Juliette the baker. And oh, it is a wonderful large, warm, aromatic hunk of bread, so Nanette takes a taste and another and more—until there is nothing left. Maybe she needs to take a jet to Tibet. But she faces her mother and finds understanding, tenderness, and a surprise twist. Willems is at his outlandish best with line after line of “ettes” and their absurd rhymes, all the while demonstrating a deep knowledge of children’s thought processes. Nanette and the entire cast of characters are bright green frogs with very large round eyes, heavily outlined in black and clad in eccentric clothing and hats. A highly detailed village constructed of cardboard forms the background for Nanette’s adventures. Her every emotion explodes all over the pages in wildly expressive, colorful vignettes and an eye-popping use of emphatic display type. The endpapers follow the fate of the baguette from fresh and whole to chewed and gone. Demands for encores will surely follow.

Laugh-out-loud fun for all. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Oct. 25, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4847-2286-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Aug. 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2016

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