A cheerful introduction to the holiday for youngsters, both reptile and human.

READ REVIEW

ALLIGATOR SEDER

Alligator family and friends gather for a Passover Seder.

In the Florida Everglades, three alligators, likely a mother and a father-and-son duo who both wear kippot, prepare for the holiday meal by laying out a Seder plate, hunting for chametz, and putting the gefilte fish on the table. A trio of “gator guests” arrive, two adult gators with a toddler in tow, bearing wine. The celebration continues with the lighting of the candles, the blessing of the wine, the four questions, the telling of the Passover story, eating matzah, and the hunt for the afikomen. “Gator” conveniently makes a pleasant sonic echo with “Seder,” helping to propel the quatrains along: “It’s time for The Four Questions, / asked by Baby Gator. / Then comes the Passover story, / as at every family seder.” The gators are a happy bunch with expressive eyes and perpetual if toothy grins in Elissambura’s jewel-toned images dominated by blues and greens. Just enough Seder traditions are presented for a toddler audience, but few details of the Passover story are described. Compositions are busy and frequently presented in separate verso and recto layouts; combined with the lack of contrast, these design choices skew the audience somewhat older.

A cheerful introduction to the holiday for youngsters, both reptile and human. (Board book. 3-4)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5415-6041-3

Page Count: 12

Publisher: Kar-Ben

Review Posted Online: Jan. 12, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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While this is not an essential purchase, most little pumpkins will love being told, “Baby, I'm batty for you!” (Board book....

YOU ARE MY PUMPKIN

Young children won't understand the metaphors but will appreciate the sentiment made clear by the repeated, Halloween-themed declarations of love in Wan's latest board book.

Each of the seven spreads presents an endearment illustrated by an object drawn with heavy outlines and just enough detail to invoke its essential characteristics. Lest it become too maudlin, between the “sugary, sweet candy corn” and a “purr-fect, cuddly kitty” is a “wild, messy monster.” Wan manages to make each drawing expressive and distinctive while relying on just a few shapes—crescents or circles for eyes, dots or ovals accenting cheeks. Although each spread stands alone, there are quiet connections. For example, the orange of the pumpkin is repeated in the candy corn, and the purple that adorns kitty's hat and bow becomes the prominent color on the next spread, setting off the friendly white ghost nicely. The same purple is used for the spider's body on the next to last spread. Subtle, shadowed backgrounds repeat the patterns found elsewhere in the book. For example, the background of the page with the kitty includes pumpkins, hearts, and hats and bows like the ones kitty is wearing.

While this is not an essential purchase, most little pumpkins will love being told, “Baby, I'm batty for you!” (Board book. 6 mos.-3)

Pub Date: June 28, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-545-88092-3

Page Count: 14

Publisher: Cartwheel/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2016

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Overdone, even for a tall tale.

WALRUS IN THE BATHTUB

A family of four’s new house is perfect save for one feature.

It has everything they need: a big yard, a tree with a sea gulls’ nest in it, and an enormous bathtub. But there’s one problem: In that huge bathtub, there’s a walrus. And he doesn’t want to leave. He makes bathtub tidal waves, he floods the house, and he uses all the toothpaste. The family members do their best to convince the walrus to leave, and little readers will get a few good chuckles out of the increasingly absurd tactics. The text is conveyed almost entirely in list form, with occasional snippets of dialogue and arrows pointing to various pictorial elements when necessary. The “WORST things about having a walrus in the bathtub: 1) Dial-a-Clam deliveries 2) Pool parties 3) Walrus songs” leads naturally to “Things that are louder than walrus songs: 1) Nothing”; underscoring this is the walrus’s not-so-tuneful “AAAAHHHROOOOOOOOOOOOHHHHH!!!” The illustrations are suitably kinetic, milking the absurdity of a walrus in a bathtub for all it’s worth, and they add a narrative subtext, depicting one child’s evident delight in the presence of the family’s unintended roommate. Unfortunately, compositions are so busy, chock-full of silliness plus additional characters such as the family’s dog and the walrus’s visiting friends, that it may be hard for little readers to focus on that relationship. The family members all have light skin and straight hair that’s either black or brown.

Overdone, even for a tall tale. (Picture book. 3-4)

Pub Date: July 10, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-8037-4101-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2018

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