Despite the missteps, parents and teachers looking to insert a message of diversity into a color lesson could do worse.

NOT QUITE BLACK AND WHITE

Animation sensibilities are reflected in the quirky silliness this brother and sister team (he a game designer, she a former Disney artist) brings to their first original picture book.

Eleven anthropomorphic animals drawn in bold black lines against clean white backgrounds each wear a spot of color: a zebra in a pink–polka dot dress, a Dalmatian in a red cape, skunks in blue swim trunks. One drum-playing kitty even sports an aqua mohawk. Each color/animal appears on a spacious double-page spread in which lead initials of the rhyming couplet that forms the text and each color word are printed in the featured color. The rhymes read smoothly for the most part and provide hints for beginning readers. The colors chosen are not the standard crayon-box eight, and unfortunately they are not all pure colors. The vest on the traffic-directing horse is on the dull-brown side of orange, and the maroon flag planted on the moon by a proud badger is more brown than red mixed with purple, making it less than “striking.” The final message brings all the animals together for two final double-page spreads; while not preachy, it is not at all subtle: “From the darkest of dark to the brightest of bright, / we're each pretty special, not quite BLACK and WHITE.”

Despite the missteps, parents and teachers looking to insert a message of diversity into a color lesson could do worse. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Sept. 6, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-06-238066-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: July 20, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2016

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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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