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

READ REVIEW

WHAT CAN YOU DO WITH A TOOLBOX?

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 25, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2018

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

YOUR BABY'S FIRST WORD WILL BE DADA

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 15, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2015

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It’s a bit hard to dance, or count, to this beat.

ONE MORE DINO ON THE FLOOR

Dinos that love to move and groove get children counting from one to 10—and perhaps moving to the beat.

Beginning with a solo bop by a female dino (she has eyelashes, doncha know), the dinosaur dance party begins. Each turn of the page adds another dino and a change in the dance genre: waltz, country line dancing, disco, limbo, square dancing, hip-hop, and swing. As the party would be incomplete without the moonwalk, the T. Rex does the honors…and once they are beyond their initial panic at his appearance, the onlookers cheer wildly. The repeated refrain on each spread allows for audience participation, though it doesn’t easily trip off the tongue: “They hear a swish. / What’s this? / One more? / One more dino on the floor.” Some of the prehistoric beasts are easily identifiable—pterodactyl, ankylosaurus, triceratops—but others will be known only to the dino-obsessed; none are identified, other than T-Rex. Packed spreads filled with psychedelically colored dinos sporting blocks of color, stripes, or polka dots (and infectious looks of joy) make identification even more difficult, to say nothing of counting them. Indeed, this fails as a counting primer: there are extra animals (and sometimes a grumpy T-Rex) in the backgrounds, and the next dino to join the party pokes its head into the frame on the page before. Besides all that, most kids won’t get the dance references.

It’s a bit hard to dance, or count, to this beat. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: March 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-8075-1598-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Whitman

Review Posted Online: Jan. 20, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2016

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