Young puzzle fans will find that this teases their perceptions and taunts their imaginations.

READ REVIEW

AN EXCESSIVE ALPHABET

AVALANCHES OF AS TO ZILLIONS OF ZS

In this alphabet book, letter identification is combined with a seek-and-find game.

The subtitle, “Avalanches of As to Zillions of Zs,” sets the stage. The opening page depicts a landslide of items beginning with the letter A (ark, animals, anchor, etc.) along with many A’s, both upper- and lowercase. The following pages follow suit. For example, “Cans of Cs” shows a closet out of which spills a slew of cans containing both C’s and C words: cow, couch, crab, camel, crayons, etc. As with most alphabet books, some pages work better than others. It will take a sophisticated eye to figure out that the “Endless Es” are a series of diminishing-in-perspective squares being painted by an artist at his easel. Most of the descriptions indicate some kind of quantity or collection. “Flocks of Fs” fly in the sky; “Globs of Gs” ooze gummily; “Oodles of Os” float in bowls of soup; “Quarts of Qs,” oddly, listen to a string quartet. The “King-size Ks” that loom over a king, kiwi, and box of Kleenex are something of an anomaly, but kids aren’t likely to notice. The most challenging is likely the “Herds of Hs,” with lower- and uppercase H’s marked like Holsteins standing in a field. The only legend is on the endpapers, which lists each of the objects in a running litany.

Young puzzle fans will find that this teases their perceptions and taunts their imaginations. (Picture book. 6-9)

Pub Date: Oct. 25, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4814-3986-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Caitlyn Dlouhy/Atheneum

Review Posted Online: June 28, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2016

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Cute and brave—gee, Rot’s spud-tacular!

ROT, THE BRAVEST IN THE WORLD!

A “scaredy-spud” puts on his brave face.

All “mutant potatoes” love mud. Mud is good for playing games, eating, and even sleeping. But few taters have more tender feelings toward muck than Rot. À la Pete the Cat, Rot celebrates mud in song: “Mud between my toes! / Mud in my nose! / Mud is GREAT / wherever it GOES!” When Rot’s big brother, Snot, tells Rot about the Squirm that lives “deep down in the mushy muck,” his love quickly turns to fear. But he doesn’t give up! Instead, Rot imagines himself in various disguises to work up courage. There’s “Super Spud” (a superhero), “Sir Super Rot, the Brave and Bold” (a superhero-knight), and even “Sir Super Rot the Pigtato” (a, um, superhero-knight-pig-potato). The disguises are one thing, but, deep down, is Rot really brave enough to face the Squirm? Readers wooed by Rot’s charm in Rot: The Cutest in the World (2017) will laugh out loud at this well-paced encore—and it’s not just because of the butt cracks. Clanton creates a winning dynamic, balancing Rot’s earnestness, witty dialogue, and an omniscient, slightly melodramatic narrator. The cartoon illustrations were created using watercolors, colored pencils, digital collage, and—brilliantly—potato stamps. Clanton’s reliance on earth tones makes for some clever, surprising page turns when the palette is broken.

Cute and brave—gee, Rot’s spud-tacular! (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: June 16, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4814-6764-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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Amusing, yes. Useful for reading practice, yes, but not necessarily guaranteed to make new readers the “read-i-est.” (Early...

WE ARE GROWING!

From the Elephant & Piggie Like Reading! series

Elephant and Piggie make an appearance to introduce the first in their new series, an egalitarian introduction to superlatives.

Each one of seven blades of talking grass—of a total of eight—discovers that it is superb at something: it’s tallest, curliest, silliest, and so forth. The humor aims to appeal to a broad spectrum. It is slightly disturbing that one being eaten by purple bugs is proud of being the crunchiest, but that will certainly appeal to a slice of the audience. The eighth blade of grass is grappling with a philosophical identity crisis; its name is Walt, a sly reference to Whitman's Leaves of Grass that will go right over the heads of beginning readers but may amuse astute parents or teachers. Tension builds with the approach of a lawn mower; the blades of grass lose their unique features when they are trimmed to equal heights. Mercifully, they are chopped off right above the eyes and can continue their silly banter. Departing from the image of a Whitman-esque free spirit, Walt now discovers he is the neatest. Lots of speech bubbles, repetition, and clear layout make this entry a useful addition to lessons on adjectives and superlatives while delivering a not-so-subtle message that everyone is good at something. Elephant and Piggie's final assertion that “this book is the FUNNIEST” doesn't necessarily make it so, however.

Amusing, yes. Useful for reading practice, yes, but not necessarily guaranteed to make new readers the “read-i-est.” (Early reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 20, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4847-2635-8

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: June 22, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2016

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