A solid look at both counting and seasonal changes—albeit within a limited hardiness zone.

READ REVIEW

ONE LEAF, TWO LEAVES, COUNT WITH ME!

A young child counts from one to 10 as an oak tree leafs out in the spring and then back down to one again as the leaves fall in autumn.

The child, who has light-brown skin and a head of thick, curly black hair, lives in a little purple house next to the tree and is a close observer of all that happens on and around it. Micklos’ bouncy rhyming verses keep the pages turning as the seasons change and leaves unfurl or fall, numerals sharing the pages with the text to reinforce the counting. “Nine leaves, / ten leaves, / green and young. / Here come / more leaves. / SPRING HAS SPRUNG!” McFarland’s crayon, watercolor, acrylic, and digital illustrations are angular and graphic, blocks of color and simple shapes standing in for flowers, the animals largely abstract, especially the birds. Full- and double-page spreads, vignettes, changes in perspective, and scenes showing the tree as it gains/loses leaves combine with the clues signaling the seasons’ changing and the different animal visitors to keep readers’ interest despite the book’s singular focus. The one quibble is that this is an oak tree. Depending on where readers live, oak leaves may not turn red or orange, and they may not fall in autumn, instead turning brown and hanging on into winter.

A solid look at both counting and seasonal changes—albeit within a limited hardiness zone. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-399-54471-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Nancy Paulsen Books

Review Posted Online: June 14, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2017

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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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A welcome addition to autumnal storytelling—and to tales of traditional enemies overcoming their history.

THE SCARECROW

Ferry and the Fans portray a popular seasonal character’s unlikely friendship.

Initially, the protagonist is shown in his solitary world: “Scarecrow stands alone and scares / the fox and deer, / the mice and crows. / It’s all he does. It’s all he knows.” His presence is effective; the animals stay outside the fenced-in fields, but the omniscient narrator laments the character’s lack of friends or places to go. Everything changes when a baby crow falls nearby. Breaking his pole so he can bend, the scarecrow picks it up, placing the creature in the bib of his overalls while singing a lullaby. Both abandon natural tendencies until the crow learns to fly—and thus departs. The aabb rhyme scheme flows reasonably well, propelling the narrative through fall, winter, and spring, when the mature crow returns with a mate to build a nest in the overalls bib that once was his home. The Fan brothers capture the emotional tenor of the seasons and the main character in their panoramic pencil, ballpoint, and digital compositions. Particularly poignant is the close-up of the scarecrow’s burlap face, his stitched mouth and leaf-rimmed head conveying such sadness after his companion goes. Some adults may wonder why the scarecrow seems to have only partial agency, but children will be tuned into the problem, gratified by the resolution.

A welcome addition to autumnal storytelling—and to tales of traditional enemies overcoming their history. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-247576-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2019

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