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



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.


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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Simple, sunny, silly illustrations brilliantly convey the complexities and joys one can unearth when tilling a garden of...


Pomelo, a diminutive, round-eyed, pink elephant child, discovers opposites in his garden world.

Sometimes satisfyingly clear and sometimes comically questionable, all 58 of Pomelo’s opposites engage and delight. Are polka-dot mushrooms really the opposite of striped mushrooms? Many pairings challenge young readers with sophisticated humor, hinting at tacit desires and subtle feelings. In one spread, Pomelo appears with a lustrous head of blond hair with “dream” appearing beneath; on the accompanying page, a bald head sits atop his body with “reality” stamped below. Pomelo’s eyes look identically plaintive in both portraits—a perfect punch line. These illustrations, rich with implicit suggestions, prompt parents to offer explanations or (better yet!) solicit interpretations from their children. Some opposites, thankfully, are just downright silly. Watch Pomelo, whose body crosses the book’s gutter, open w-i-d-e for a round, red fruit (“in”) on the left page, and see his tail raised to expel an identically spherical poo (“out”) on the right. The book’s pace quickens as it advances, and more and more quirky, nonsensical, complicated pairings crop up. The speedy delivery of associations starts to feel like an exciting, wild ride. Images, words and meanings volley back and forth, bouncing from page to page and between this clever book and readers’ imaginations.

Simple, sunny, silly illustrations brilliantly convey the complexities and joys one can unearth when tilling a garden of language. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: July 15, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-59270-132-2

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Enchanted Lion Books

Review Posted Online: May 29, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2013

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