A delightful and timely homage to reading and, more, to books themselves.

OPEN THIS LITTLE BOOK

You really can't judge a book by its cover!

Follow the instructions of the title and find...another, smaller cover, in purple, with a frog and a rabbit both engrossed in their reading. Open that cover, and there's a red one (with black dots) about a ladybug, then a green one about a frog, an orange one about a rabbit, a yellow (with honeycombs) about a bear, each progressively smaller, and finally, a tiny blue one, which really contains a story. It's about a giant, the ladybug, the rabbit, the frog and the bear, dedicated readers all, who form a friendship based on their love of reading. Meantime, the outer edges of the books that were opened on the way form a pretty, square rainbow. (Each cover features a different typeface and background design.) Getting to the end of the story means passing back through all the previous page sizes and colors. On the final red page, the ladybug closes her book, and then “[y]ou close this little red book….” But of course, then readers are urged to "open another!" And the illustration on the real last page features a tall bookcase with all the animals around it reading, as well as the giant's hand, other tiny creatures and a couple of engrossed children. The sleek text and endlessly inventive design register strongly by showing rather than just telling.

A delightful and timely homage to reading and, more, to books themselves. (Picture book. 3-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-8118-6783-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2013

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Lacking in originality yet ultimately a timely mirror for black boyhood and childhood

COOL CUTS

This companion to Happy Hair (2019) takes the same appreciation for the diversity of black self-expression from the beauty salon to the barbershop.

Branching out from black girl hairstyles, Roe here extends the conversation to consider the multitude of hairstyles for black and brown boys even as readers can infer a wider representation of the gender spectrum, since many of the illustrations come without explicit gender assignments. There’s a legacy of black boys who have been targeted, punished, or criticized for their choice of self-expression, and this book is a needed corrective. Arriving after the much-heralded Crown (2017), this makes space to celebrate a wide range of styles, from cornrows and curls to fro-hawks and flat-tops. Each matte, posterlike portrait is rendered alongside a catchy, empowering quote: “When the stars shine, / the world is mine” highlights a high-top; “A happy boy, / full of joy!” celebrates a step-up. A (rather trite) refrain pulls them all together: “i am born to be AWESOME!” Roe is returning to the series after Superheroes Are Everywhere (2019), her recent bestselling collaboration with Sen. Kamala Harris, undoubtedly bringing a number of new fans with her. For a segment of U.S. readership that is starved for representation that appreciates the unique details and nuances of their style and identity, this steps in to lift up their presence in bright, lively portraiture.

Lacking in originality yet ultimately a timely mirror for black boyhood and childhood . (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Feb. 11, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-9557-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Nov. 10, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2019

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A riotously fresh take on breaking the fourth wall.

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THE BOOK WITH NO PICTURES

This book may not have pictures, but it’s sure to inspire lots of conversations—and laughs.

Television writer, actor and comedian Novak delivers a rare find, indeed: a very good celebrity picture book. It doesn’t even seem fair to call it such, since it has nothing to do with his Emmy Award–winning writing for The Office or the fame his broader career has afforded him. The jacket flap even eschews a glossy photo, instead saying “B.J. has brown hair and blue eyes,” in order to keep with the book’s central conceit. What this book does have is text, and it’s presented through artful typography that visually conveys its changing tone to guide oral readings. Furthermore, the text implies (or rather, demands) a shared reading transaction, in which an adult is compelled to read the text aloud, no matter how “COMPLETELY RIDICULOUS” it is. Employing direct address, it pleads with the implied child listener to allow him or her to stop reading. Nonsense words, silly words to be sung and even a smattering of potty talk for good measure all coalesce in riotous read-aloud fare. Although the closing pages beg the implied child reader to “please please please please / please / choose a book with pictures” for subsequent reading, it’s likely that this request will be ignored.

A riotously fresh take on breaking the fourth wall. (. (Picture book. 3-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 30, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-8037-4171-3

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: July 16, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2014

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