A snapshot of country life full of sounds and sentiment.

COCK-A-DOODLE DOO, CREAK, POP-POP, MOO

What can you hear on a farm?

The titular "cock-a-doodle-doo, creak, pop-pop, and moo," just to start. Crisp, clear lines rich in onomatopoeia describe a day from morning to night in this nostalgic paean to life on a farm, while stylized, retro watercolors provide a humorous look at the farm’s residents, both animal and human. From start (“Rooster crows, / Cock-a-doodle-doo. / Wake up, girls, / And little boys, too”) to finish (“Owl calls out / Hoo, hoo, hoo, hoo. / Goodnight, boys, / And little girls, too”), this agreeable selection delivers the sounds, look and atmosphere of an old-time farm. Young children will enjoy the strong rhymes and catchy beat, which beckon them to join in, and appreciate the introduction to some of the specifics of the world of a farm, including cooking, chores and the rhythm of nature. Sneed's characters, both animal and human, and backgrounds are rendered with curving, sometimes off-kilter lines, constantly evoking motion and complementing the rhythmic text. In composition and perspective, they echo the heroic murals of the Works Progress Administration. He fills the pages with details (a swallow feeds its babies at its nest under the eaves) and humor (a pig squints lazily up from its bed in the mud). 

A snapshot of country life full of sounds and sentiment. (Picture book. 2-5)

Pub Date: April 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-8234-2356-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: Feb. 5, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2012

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Little Blue’s fans will enjoy the animal sounds and counting opportunities, but it’s the sparkling lights on the truck’s own...

LITTLE BLUE TRUCK'S CHRISTMAS

The sturdy Little Blue Truck is back for his third adventure, this time delivering Christmas trees to his band of animal pals.

The truck is decked out for the season with a Christmas wreath that suggests a nose between headlights acting as eyeballs. Little Blue loads up with trees at Toad’s Trees, where five trees are marked with numbered tags. These five trees are counted and arithmetically manipulated in various ways throughout the rhyming story as they are dropped off one by one to Little Blue’s friends. The final tree is reserved for the truck’s own use at his garage home, where he is welcomed back by the tree salestoad in a neatly circular fashion. The last tree is already decorated, and Little Blue gets a surprise along with readers, as tiny lights embedded in the illustrations sparkle for a few seconds when the last page is turned. Though it’s a gimmick, it’s a pleasant surprise, and it fits with the retro atmosphere of the snowy country scenes. The short, rhyming text is accented with colored highlights, red for the animal sounds and bright green for the numerical words in the Christmas-tree countdown.

Little Blue’s fans will enjoy the animal sounds and counting opportunities, but it’s the sparkling lights on the truck’s own tree that will put a twinkle in a toddler’s eyes. (Picture book. 2-5)

Pub Date: Sept. 23, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-544-32041-3

Page Count: 24

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 12, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2014

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Innovative and thoroughly enjoyable.

ANIMAL SHAPES

You think you know shapes? Animals? Blend them together, and you might see them both a little differently!

What a mischievous twist on a concept book! With wordplay and a few groan-inducing puns, Neal creates connections among animals and shapes that are both unexpected and so seemingly obvious that readers might wonder why they didn’t see them all along. Of course, a “lazy turtle” meeting an oval would create the side-splitting combo of a “SLOW-VAL.” A dramatic page turn transforms a deeply saturated, clean-lined green oval by superimposing a head and turtle shell atop, with watery blue ripples completing the illusion. Minimal backgrounds and sketchy, impressionistic detailing keep the focus right on the zany animals. Beginning with simple shapes, the geometric forms become more complicated as the book advances, taking readers from a “soaring bird” that meets a triangle to become a “FLY-ANGLE” to a “sleepy lion” nonagon “YAWN-AGON.” Its companion text, Animal Colors, delves into color theory, this time creating entirely hybrid animals, such as the “GREEN WHION” with maned head and whale’s tail made from a “blue whale and a yellow lion.” It’s a compelling way to visualize color mixing, and like Animal Shapes, it’s got verve. Who doesn’t want to shout out that a yellow kangaroo/green moose blend is a “CHARTREUSE KANGAMOOSE”?

Innovative and thoroughly enjoyable. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: March 27, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4998-0534-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little Bee Books

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2018

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