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

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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THIS BOOK IS GRAY

A gray character tries to write an all-gray book.

The six primary and secondary colors are building a rainbow, each contributing the hue of their own body, and Gray feels forlorn and left out because rainbows contain no gray. So Gray—who, like the other characters, has a solid, triangular body, a doodle-style face, and stick limbs—sets off alone to create “the GRAYest book ever.” His book inside a book shows a peaceful gray cliff house near a gray sea with gentle whitecaps; his three gray characters—hippo, wolf, kitten—wait for their arc to begin. But then the primaries arrive and call the gray scene “dismal, bleak, and gloomy.” The secondaries show up too, and soon everyone’s overrunning Gray’s creation. When Gray refuses to let White and Black participate, astute readers will note the flaw: White and black (the colors) had already been included in the early all-gray spreads. Ironically, Gray’s book within a book displays calm, passable art while the metabook’s unsubtle illustrations and sloppy design make for cramped and crowded pages that are too busy to hold visual focus. The speech-bubble dialogue’s snappy enough (Blue calls people “dude,” and there are puns). A convoluted moral muddles the core artistic question—whether a whole book can be gray—and instead highlights a trite message about working together.

Low grade. (glossary) (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5420-4340-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Two Lions

Review Posted Online: July 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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