A sweet confection through and through, from the glitter on the cover to the nonpareils on the endpapers.

READ REVIEW

PAT-A-CAKE BABY

Baby bakes.

This Caucasian baby, in a white onesie and a chef’s hat, is a self-proclaimed “cookie baby [and] pat-a-cake baby.” After nightfall, the baby proceeds to the kitchen, where three tiny candy friends are waiting. The rollicking, rhythmic text, which reads aloud in a most bouncy and satisfying way, dances and giggles all over the pages. Butter, sugar, eggs, milk, flour are shaken and strewn and sifted by baby and companions. The cake is baked and iced and served so deliciously that the Man in the Moon comes to share. Pastel candy colors abound, with stars and sprinkles. Wordplay is everywhere; the baby happily declares that they’re “frisking while we’re whisking ’til it’s flitter flotter fluffy.” After the cake’s in the oven, who can resist? “We’re scraping out the bowl / with an icky flicky licky / and oops we lick each other / and all of us are sticky.” This is accompanied by an image of baby and buddies all in the mixing bowl, licking their fingers. Perspective bends and stretches like a fun-house mirror (or taffy), and the relative sizes of kitchen tools and objects are a little dizzying. It’s good fun but definitely not quiet bedtime reading, especially since it concludes with multicolored capital letters spelling out “IT’S EATING TIME!”

A sweet confection through and through, from the glitter on the cover to the nonpareils on the endpapers. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: June 9, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-7636-7577-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2015

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For places where the first-grade shelves are particularly thin.

ON THE FIRST DAY OF FIRST GRADE

The traditional song “The Twelve Days of Christmas” gets a school makeover as readers follow a cheery narrator through the first 12 days of first grade.

“On the first day of first grade / I had fun right away // laughing and learning all day!” In these first two spreads, Jennings shows the child, who has brown skin and a cloud of dark-brown hair, entering the schoolyard with a diverse array of classmates and settling in. In the backgrounds, caregivers, including a woman in hijab, stand at the fence and kids hang things on hooks in the back of the room. Each new day sees the child and their friends enjoying new things, previous days’ activities repeated in the verses each time so that those listening will soon be chiming in. The child helps in the classroom, checks out books from the library, plants seeds, practices telling time and counting money, leads the line, performs in a play, shows off a picture of their pet bunny, and does activities in gym, music, and art classes. The Photoshop-and-watercolor illustrations portray adorable and engaged kids having fun while learning with friends. But while the song and topic are the same, this doesn’t come close to touching either the hysterical visuals or great rhythm of Deborah Lee Rose and Carey Armstong-Ellis’ The Twelve Days of Kindergarten (2003).

For places where the first-grade shelves are particularly thin. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: June 19, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-266851-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2018

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A quirky, fun story that will appeal to young audiences looking for a little bit of scare, with a premise so good it...

FEAR THE BUNNY

A tiger can’t believe it’s being upstaged in this picture-book riff on William Blake’s famous poem.

A group of zoologically diverse animals huddle around a fire, listening to a porcupine read from a chilling poem: “Bunnies, bunnies, burning bright, / in the forests of the night—.” An incredulous tiger interrupts, saying that the poem is actually about it. But a squirrel matter-of-factly states that “Here, it’s ‘bunnies, bunnies.’ ” The tiger still doesn’t understand why the animals would be so afraid of bunnies but not afraid of tigers and tries to explain why it, an apex predator, is far more threatening. The smaller animals remain unimpressed, calmly telling the tiger that “In this forest, we fear the bunny” and that it should “Hide now, before it’s too late.” An amusing and well-done premise slightly disappoints at the climax, with the tiger streaking away in terror before a horde of headlamp-wearing bunnies, but eager readers never learn what, exactly, the bunnies would do if they caught up. But at the end, a group of tigers joins the other animals in their awestruck reading of the adapted Blake poem, included in full at the end. Cute, fuzzy illustrations contrast nicely with the dark tone and forest background.

A quirky, fun story that will appeal to young audiences looking for a little bit of scare, with a premise so good it overcomes a weak conclusion. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Feb. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4814-7800-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Caitlyn Dlouhy/Atheneum

Review Posted Online: Nov. 21, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2018

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