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WHAT CAN YOU DO WITH A TOOLBOX?

A sadly missed opportunity to show kids the real nuts and bolts of construction.

TV designers and builders Carrino and Colaneri, aka “The Cousins,” teach a bunch of preschoolers how to use tools to build a playground.

The men introduce the children to safety precautions and emphasize the need for adult supervision. They show various tools in action—a wrench, bolts, a shovel, a screwdriver, a tape measure, a level, a hammer and nails, a saw, a drill, a ladder, and paintbrushes—and the kids watch raptly and run around. The pencil-and-watercolor vignettes are attractively busy and convey the excitement of the project, but too many details are missing or inaccurate to adequately explain the building process. The text states “We use a wrench and bolts to assemble the swing set,” but the swing set looks finished (there is a kid on a swing), and there is no visible explanation of the mechanics of this operation. Readers learn that “a screwdriver turns a screw to fasten the cargo net,” but there is no demonstration of how the screwdriver (held by a squirrel) is intended to be used or what a screw is. Descriptions are inaccurate: A tape measure is used “to measure how tall to make the slide”—but in fact it is to calculate where the slide needs to be attached. A level is used to “make sure the monkey bars are straight,” but “straight” does not sufficiently convey the concept of “level.”

A sadly missed opportunity to show kids the real nuts and bolts of construction. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Aug. 28, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5344-0296-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Paula Wiseman/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: April 24, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2018

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IZZY GIZMO AND THE INVENTION CONVENTION

From the Izzy Gizmo series

A disappointing follow-up.

Inventor Izzy Gizmo is back in this sequel to her eponymous debut (2017).

While busily inventing one day, Izzy receives an invitation from the Genius Guild to their annual convention. Though Izzy’s “inventions…don’t always work,” Grandpa (apparently her sole caregiver) encourages her to go. The next day they undertake a long journey “over fields, hills, and waves” and “mile after mile” to isolated Technoff Isle. There, Izzy finds she must compete against four other kids to create the most impressive machine. The colorful, detail-rich illustrations chronicle how poor Izzy is thwarted at every turn by Abi von Lavish, a Veruca Salt–esque character who takes all the supplies for herself. But when Abi abandons her project, Izzy salvages the pieces and decides to take Grandpa’s advice to create a machine that “can really be put to good use.” A frustrated Izzy’s impatience with a friend almost foils her chance at the prize, but all’s well that ends well. There’s much to like: Brown-skinned inventor girl Izzy is an appealing character, it’s great to see a nurturing brown-skinned male caregiver, the idea of an “Invention Convention” is fun, and a sustainable-energy invention is laudable. However, these elements don’t make up for rhymes that often feel forced and a lackluster story.

A disappointing follow-up. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: March 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-68263-164-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Peachtree

Review Posted Online: Jan. 11, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

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YOUR BABY'S FIRST WORD WILL BE DADA

Plotless and pointless, the book clearly exists only because its celebrity author wrote it.

A succession of animal dads do their best to teach their young to say “Dada” in this picture-book vehicle for Fallon.

A grumpy bull says, “DADA!”; his calf moos back. A sad-looking ram insists, “DADA!”; his lamb baas back. A duck, a bee, a dog, a rabbit, a cat, a mouse, a donkey, a pig, a frog, a rooster, and a horse all fail similarly, spread by spread. A final two-spread sequence finds all of the animals arrayed across the pages, dads on the verso and children on the recto. All the text prior to this point has been either iterations of “Dada” or animal sounds in dialogue bubbles; here, narrative text states, “Now everybody get in line, let’s say it together one more time….” Upon the turn of the page, the animal dads gaze round-eyed as their young across the gutter all cry, “DADA!” (except the duckling, who says, “quack”). Ordóñez's illustrations have a bland, digital look, compositions hardly varying with the characters, although the pastel-colored backgrounds change. The punch line fails from a design standpoint, as the sudden, single-bubble chorus of “DADA” appears to be emanating from background features rather than the baby animals’ mouths (only some of which, on close inspection, appear to be open). It also fails to be funny.

Plotless and pointless, the book clearly exists only because its celebrity author wrote it. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: June 9, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-250-00934-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Review Posted Online: April 14, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2015

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