Teachers will have field day with this wordplay; this caper is clever, capricious, and cunning.



Help! All of the words in Noah Webster’s dictionary are bored, so they make a break for it and the word parade begins.

Welcome to Hollyword, land of anthropomorphic words. The self-centered I is the grand marshal, together with the 34-letter “supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” (hyphenated three times to fit on the page). “The action verbs LOVE to show off” (there are “bounce,” “spin,” “ricochet,” and “jump,” among others). The “no-action contractions NEED SOME HELP,” as they’re a pretty defeatist bunch: “he couldn’t,” “she won’t,” “we didn’t.” Homophones tango by twos and threes, and “archaic words strut their SHAKESPEARE” with yummy entries such as “Garboil,” “Pismire,” “Sackbut,” and “Yerk.” (A closing glossary helps with these and other unfamiliar words.) Anagrams, antonyms, palindromes, rhyming words, conjunctions, and interjections also each have a double-page spread, the lively letters acting out the definitions. The palette of the digital illustrations uses orange, turquoise, and olive green to highlight the actions. Eye dots, smile lines, and wiggly arms and legs animate the letters. Exuberant and energetic design enlivens the letters as they bounce and frolic across the pages, minimalist compositions adding occasional details to amp up the fun: a crocodile-green “Nile” floats down a river; the A in “READ” holds open a book for its neighboring letters to enjoy.

Teachers will have field day with this wordplay; this caper is clever, capricious, and cunning. (Picture book. 6-10)

Pub Date: Jan. 23, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4814-8004-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Oct. 16, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2017

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


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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A treasure house of mysteries large and small.



This Norwegian import is guaranteed to silence boastful Where’s Waldo grads.

It opens on a woodsy nature scene for zero, “No one,” before moving to a deceptively simple one (1) child in a bedroom who next joins his dad (2) for a forest outing. The count continues—by single digits to 30, then by various intervals to 1,000—on to depict crowd scenes in locales ranging from a library to a life drawing class, with many individualized figures (of diverse body type, skin tone, and hair texture and color) recurring. Inconspicuous captions below each picture offer either pointers to subtle visual cues or invitations to speculate about what they see. Of the 20 children in a classroom, for instance, “One of them is thinking about all the people who’ve lived before us. One of them has lost the class teddy bear. One of them is dreading football training. One of them will become prime minister.” Roskifte supplies some solutions, along with additional scenarios, at the close. She also gives viewers a bit of an assist by coloring in her small, doll-like humans throughout but leaving everything else as pale outlines. Switching at the end to a big blue marble floating in space, she rounds off the numbering with 7.5 billion followed by a barrage of leading questions, from what became of that lost teddy to lifelong posers, including the poignant “Does everyone share the same truth?”

A treasure house of mysteries large and small. (Picture book. 6-10)

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-7112-4524-2

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Wide Eyed Editions

Review Posted Online: Dec. 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2020

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