THE QUESTION SONG

The daughter and granddaughter of artists offers a very agreeable rhymed verse with a large comfort quotient. Each spread begins with a repeated line about a common domestic tragedy: “My juice is spilling on the floor! What are we going to do?” “I can’t find my bunny! What are we going to do?” A couplet responds, “We’ll pick up the cup / and wipe the floor. / Then start again and / pour you some more!” and each ends with “That’s what we will do!” Zemach uses an unusual 19th-century painting technique involving stencils, transfers, oil paint, and velvet; the result is soft and expressive edges, lively colors, and charming use of pattern. The couplet sits inside a circular framed image on the left side of each spread and on the right a rectangle frames the response and two or three images that resolve the problem. The parents have strawberry-blonde and fuzzy dark hair; the brother and sister combine these traits. Families will make up their own music (and their own mishaps) to continue this rollicking tale of cleanup and comfort. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: July 1, 2003

ISBN: 0-316-66601-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2003

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Pair this with Leo Timmers’ Who Is Driving? (2007) for twice the guessing fun.

CLOTHESLINE CLUES TO JOBS PEOPLE DO

From the Clothesline Clues series

Heling and Hembrook’s clever conceit challenges children to analyze a small town’s clotheslines to guess the job each of their owners does. 

Close-up on the clothesline: “Uniform and cap, / an invite for you. / Big bag of letters. / What job does she do?” A turn of the page reveals a macro view of the home, van and the woman doing her job, “She is a mail carrier.” Indeed, she can be spotted throughout the book delivering invitations to all the rest of the characters, who gather at the end for a “Launch Party.” The verses’ rhymes are spot-on, though the rhythm falters a couple of times. The authors nicely mix up the gender stereotypes often associated with several of these occupations, making the carpenter, firefighter and astronaut women. But while Davies keeps uniforms and props pretty neutral (he even avoids U.S. mail symbols), he keeps to the stereotypes that allow young readers to easily identify occupations—the farmer chews on a stalk of wheat; the beret-wearing artist sports a curly mustache. A subdued palette and plain white backgrounds keep kids’ focus on the clothing clues. Still, there are plenty of details to absorb—the cat with arched back that anticipates a spray of water, the firefighter who “lights” the rocket.

Pair this with Leo Timmers’ Who Is Driving? (2007) for twice the guessing fun. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: July 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-58089-251-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Charlesbridge

Review Posted Online: May 16, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2012

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TEN LITTLE FINGERS AND TEN LITTLE TOES

A pleasing poem that celebrates babies around the world. Whether from a remote village or an urban dwelling, a tent or the snow, Fox notes that each “of these babies, / as everyone knows, / had ten little fingers / and ten little toes.” Repeated in each stanza, the verse establishes an easy rhythm. Oxenbury’s charming illustrations depict infants from a variety of ethnicities wearing clothing that invokes a sense of place. Her pencil drawings, with clean watercolor washes laid in, are sweetly similar to those in her early board books (Clap Hands, 1987, etc.). Each stanza introduces a new pair of babies, and the illustrations cleverly incorporate the children from the previous stanzas onto one page, allowing readers to count not only fingers and toes but also babies. The last stanza switches its focus from two children to one “sweet little child,” and reveals the narrator as that baby’s mother. Little readers will take to the repetition and counting, while parents will be moved by the last spread: a sweet depiction of mother and baby. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2008

ISBN: 978-0-15-206057-2

Page Count: 34

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2008

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