This is a book that young children will easily remember and recite after a reading or two.

ON MY BIKE

A skunk upsets a fall bicycle ride through the country.

A mother, a young child, both wearing their helmets, and a dog leave a father and baby and start off on a bike ride. They start near the sea, go past a pond with ducks, stop by a farm, pick some apples, and then meet up with the skunk. They reverse their tracks and find the rest of the family. The simple rhyming text is enlivened with onomatopoeic sounds: “I hear my bike, clackety-clack, clackety-clack / and some ducks, quackety-quack, quackety-quack.” The genderless child looks a little young to be riding without training wheels, but the brown-skinned tot is having a good time. The child, the baby (just a round head sticking out from an orange front pack), and the mother are a slight tone darker than the father. The dad takes care of the infant while the mom goes on the short adventure with the older child, reflecting contemporary families. The humans, the bikes, and the dog are boldly outlined and flatly drawn, but the autumnal landscape (evidently Vancouver, the illustrator’s home) has contrasting textures. The olive greens and browns are subtle colors for this age group, but there are red and gold highlights as well as the bold outlines to keep eyes focused. Small size, short text, and common experiences make this a good choice for reading aloud at home or to a small group. Publishing simultaneously is On My Skis, which finds the same family enjoying the winter; the dad takes the child out for what appears to be a first downhill-skiing experience, while the mom and the baby (tucked in a sled) watch.

This is a book that young children will easily remember and recite after a reading or two. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: March 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-926890-13-5

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Orca

Review Posted Online: Feb. 1, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2017

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No home run here.

PETE THE CAT: PLAY BALL!

From the I Can Read! series

Ultracool Pete the Cat turns his attention to baseball.

Pete’s team, the Rocks, is playing the Rolls. Pete is every measure of a good sport as he encourages his teammates. He isn’t, however, a skilled player. He strikes out and drops a fly ball, and though he reaches first base on a walk and runs as fast as he can, he is thrown out at home plate. “Pete is not sad, He did his best.” After all, his team won, and he had fun. It could be a great antidote to Little League pressure to be number one at all costs. But there is something off-putting about the tone, for there appears to be a lack of any real involvement in Pete’s cool, calm manner, and the repeated insistence that he is unaffected by his performance feels robotic. Does he love the game or intend to improve? Instead, the baseball game seems just another setting for Pete to demonstrate his cool. Cartoons nicely complement the text, but here too, no change of expression is apparent on Pete’s countenance, nor on any of the players’. The early-reader format is new to this series and hasn’t the lilt of Dean’s earlier works, so this might not be the way to expand the franchise.

No home run here. (Early reader. 3-5)

Pub Date: March 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-06-211067-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Feb. 13, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2013

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Not nearly so engaging as its subject, alas.

THE DANCING CLOCK

The fabulous musical Delacorte clock in Central Park in New York City is the subject of a snow monkey’s devotion, told in rhymed couplets.

Milo the snow monkey loves to watch and listen to the clock, on which two monkeys ring a bell and animals circle—the bear with a tambourine, the elephant with a squeezebox accordion, the hippo with the fiddle. He wants to join their dance. One day, the zookeeper leaves a gate unlocked, and Milo leaps out to sit on the bell with the monkeys and then dance with each animal figure in turn. The crowds cheer. But then Milo realizes it is cold up there, and there’s no food. Fortuitously, the zookeeper comes by, a well-placed nut toss attracts her attention and Milo is back with his buddies, “A clock can be special, but not like a friend!” It is clear from the falling russet leaves that this is autumn. Curiously, most of the brightly clad figures look more French than East Coast urban. There are hats on most of the adults and many of the children; there are scarves and hair ribbons galore on the big-eyed, sharp-nosed gentry in their plaids and polka-dots. The verse chugs along, thwacking its rhymes as it goes, which can be irritating or satisfying depending on readers’ tastes. A note “About the Dancing Clock” offers a bit more information.

Not nearly so engaging as its subject, alas. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-58925-100-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Tiger Tales

Review Posted Online: July 20, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2011

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