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A witty alternative to Richard Scarry’s classic visual inventories or the simpler I Spy challenges.

Trying to find his false teeth, Alfred Crabtree is forced to organize his stuff. And he really has a lot of stuff.

Strewn in the hundreds across large spreads and even one double gatefold, Alfred’s possessions are easy enough to recognize since they’re drawn in a simple cartoon style and conveniently labeled. Categorizing, however, really isn’t his strong suit—so even browsers who aren’t particularly sharp-eyed will have no trouble noticing, for instance, the traffic cone in his row of “Hats & Helmets” or the hot-dog bun amid “Tools & Utensils.” Creative labeling ranging from rhymed combinations of favorite foods (“Spam and a yam,” “Hash stew with cashews”) to a set of flint spear points dubbed “old tools” and, in a movie reference less likely to be caught by children than by their parents, a “stinkin’ badge” will also produce chuckles. Following one spread of “Broken Things” and another of ambiguous items headed “I Don’t Know What These Things Are,” Alfred, exhausted, gets a savvy suggestion from his sister that ends his search. That search, at least: The rear endpapers are a bulletin board of other misplaced items that may tempt viewers to go back and find them.

A witty alternative to Richard Scarry’s classic visual inventories or the simpler I Spy challenges. (huge foldout poster) (Picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-936365-82-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: McSweeney's McMullens

Review Posted Online: Oct. 4, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2013

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Broccoli: No way is James going to eat broccoli. “It’s disgusting,” says James. Well then, James, says his father, let’s consider the alternatives: some wormy dirt, perhaps, some stinky socks, some pre-chewed gum? James reconsiders the broccoli, but—milk? “Blech,” says James. Right, says his father, who needs strong bones? You’ll be great at hide-and-seek, though not so great at baseball and kickball and even tickling the dog’s belly. James takes a mouthful. So it goes through lumpy oatmeal, mushroom lasagna and slimy eggs, with James’ father parrying his son’s every picky thrust. And it is fun, because the father’s retorts are so outlandish: the lasagna-making troll in the basement who will be sent back to the rat circus, there to endure the rodent’s vicious bites; the uneaten oatmeal that will grow and grow and probably devour the dog that the boy won’t be able to tickle any longer since his bones are so rubbery. Schneider’s watercolors catch the mood of gentle ribbing, the looks of bewilderment and surrender and the deadpanned malarkey. It all makes James’ father’s last urging—“I was just going to say that you might like them if you tried them”—wholly fresh and unexpected advice. (Early reader. 5-9)

Pub Date: May 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-547-14956-1

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Clarion Books

Review Posted Online: April 4, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2011

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Although the love comes shining through, the text often confuses in straining for patterned simplicity.

A collection of parental wishes for a child.

It starts out simply enough: two children run pell-mell across an open field, one holding a high-flying kite with the line “I wish you more ups than downs.” But on subsequent pages, some of the analogous concepts are confusing or ambiguous. The line “I wish you more tippy-toes than deep” accompanies a picture of a boy happily swimming in a pool. His feet are visible, but it's not clear whether he's floating in the deep end or standing in the shallow. Then there's a picture of a boy on a beach, his pockets bulging with driftwood and colorful shells, looking frustrated that his pockets won't hold the rest of his beachcombing treasures, which lie tantalizingly before him on the sand. The line reads: “I wish you more treasures than pockets.” Most children will feel the better wish would be that he had just the right amount of pockets for his treasures. Some of the wordplay, such as “more can than knot” and “more pause than fast-forward,” will tickle older readers with their accompanying, comical illustrations. The beautifully simple pictures are a sweet, kid- and parent-appealing blend of comic-strip style and fine art; the cast of children depicted is commendably multiethnic.

Although the love comes shining through, the text often confuses in straining for patterned simplicity. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: April 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4521-2699-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: Feb. 15, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2015

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