Make sure to see this A+ alphabet book.


Sights unseen define this ABC book.

A is for Air / B is for Bare // C is for Clear.” These are the first three lines of text on the first two double-page spreads of this clever abecedary. Corresponding illustrations show, respectively: an open window with curtains blowing in the breeze; a child getting into a bathtub, naked backside toward readers; and fish swimming in an aquarium. Ensuing pages continue to use text to name what is invisible, with art somehow evoking the unseen. City-dwelling children will understand the tableau for “D is for delayed,” in which a group of commuters stand at a bus stop, drifting autumn leaves underscoring the absence of the bus; evoking the other side of that particular experience, “J is for Just missed it” depicts a different set of commuters hustling toward the edge of the page, a cloud of exhaust and zoom lines indicating the departed bus. One page, “N is for Nothing,” is utterly empty except for the text, which recalls the “Goodnight nobody” page from Margaret Wise Brown and Clement Hurd’s famed Goodnight Moon. Visual connections among some spreads—such as the bus-stop scenes—lend cohesion to the book as a whole, and Barrett’s vigorously crosshatched pen-and-ink art with orange highlights has an appropriately minimalist look even in crowded spreads. Humans depicted are racially diverse. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10.3-by-16-inch double-page spreads viewed at 37% of actual size.)

Make sure to see this A+ alphabet book. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 22, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-22277-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Rise x Penguin Workshop

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2020

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


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 comical, fresh look at crayons and color

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Duncan wants to draw, but instead of crayons, he finds a stack of letters listing the crayons’ demands in this humorous tale.

Red is overworked, laboring even on holidays. Gray is exhausted from coloring expansive spaces (elephants, rhinos and whales). Black wants to be considered a color-in color, and Peach? He’s naked without his wrapper! This anthropomorphized lot amicably requests workplace changes in hand-lettered writing, explaining their work stoppage to a surprised Duncan. Some are tired, others underutilized, while a few want official titles. With a little creativity and a lot of color, Duncan saves the day. Jeffers delivers energetic and playful illustrations, done in pencil, paint and crayon. The drawings are loose and lively, and with few lines, he makes his characters effectively emote. Clever spreads, such as Duncan’s “white cat in the snow” perfectly capture the crayons’ conundrum, and photographic representations of both the letters and coloring pages offer another layer of texture, lending to the tale’s overall believability.

A comical, fresh look at crayons and color . (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: June 27, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-399-25537-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: April 15, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2013

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