Fluent and friendly, this frolic will encourage preschoolers and emergent readers to recite and chant along with each reread.

BIG BEAR, SMALL MOUSE

From the Bear Books series

Forest-animal friends launch a string of contrasting terms to illustrate opposites just as a storm brings everyone together in Bear’s cozy lair.

Big Bear of Bear Snores On (2002) returns to meet up with small Mouse. Together they greet Hare and Badger, Wren and Owl, Mole and Gopher as each pair is given succinct, divergent, one-word descriptions. “There’s a clatter in the glen / High Owl, low Wren. / Slow Badger, fast Hare. / Small Mouse, big Bear!” Lovely acrylic paintings depict a verdant woodland hosting lightly anthropomorphized critters that exhibit expressively affable faces. Each new pair of characters and its corresponding portrayal is introduced against a stark white background that gives way after the page turn to a double-page spread that lists them cumulatively. The engaging language smoothly presents new vocabulary like “glen” and “lair” ahead of the rhyming, repetitive refrain, with opposing descriptive words set in bold type. Just in time, Raven warns of the approaching rain, prompting everyone to seek shelter. “All together, gathered there. / Cold night, warm lair. / Quiet woods, loud friends. / High Owl, low Wren. / Slow Badger, fast Hare. / Small mouse…BIG BEAR!

Fluent and friendly, this frolic will encourage preschoolers and emergent readers to recite and chant along with each reread. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Nov. 29, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4814-5971-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: McElderry

Review Posted Online: Aug. 17, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2016

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As ephemeral as a valentine.

LOVE FROM THE CRAYONS

Daywalt and Jeffers’ wandering crayons explore love.

Each double-page spread offers readers a vision of one of the anthropomorphic crayons on the left along with the statement “Love is [color].” The word love is represented by a small heart in the appropriate color. Opposite, childlike crayon drawings explain how that color represents love. So, readers learn, “love is green. / Because love is helpful.” The accompanying crayon drawing depicts two alligators, one holding a recycling bin and the other tossing a plastic cup into it, offering readers two ways of understanding green. Some statements are thought-provoking: “Love is white. / Because sometimes love is hard to see,” reaches beyond the immediate image of a cat’s yellow eyes, pink nose, and black mouth and whiskers, its white face and body indistinguishable from the paper it’s drawn on, to prompt real questions. “Love is brown. / Because sometimes love stinks,” on the other hand, depicted by a brown bear standing next to a brown, squiggly turd, may provoke giggles but is fundamentally a cheap laugh. Some of the color assignments have a distinctly arbitrary feel: Why is purple associated with the imagination and pink with silliness? Fans of The Day the Crayons Quit (2013) hoping for more clever, metaliterary fun will be disappointed by this rather syrupy read.

As ephemeral as a valentine. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Dec. 24, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5247-9268-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Penguin Workshop

Review Posted Online: Feb. 2, 2021

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Plotless and pointless, the book clearly exists only because its celebrity author wrote it.

YOUR BABY'S FIRST WORD WILL BE DADA

A succession of animal dads do their best to teach their young to say “Dada” in this picture-book vehicle for Fallon.

A grumpy bull says, “DADA!”; his calf moos back. A sad-looking ram insists, “DADA!”; his lamb baas back. A duck, a bee, a dog, a rabbit, a cat, a mouse, a donkey, a pig, a frog, a rooster, and a horse all fail similarly, spread by spread. A final two-spread sequence finds all of the animals arrayed across the pages, dads on the verso and children on the recto. All the text prior to this point has been either iterations of “Dada” or animal sounds in dialogue bubbles; here, narrative text states, “Now everybody get in line, let’s say it together one more time….” Upon the turn of the page, the animal dads gaze round-eyed as their young across the gutter all cry, “DADA!” (except the duckling, who says, “quack”). Ordóñez's illustrations have a bland, digital look, compositions hardly varying with the characters, although the pastel-colored backgrounds change. The punch line fails from a design standpoint, as the sudden, single-bubble chorus of “DADA” appears to be emanating from background features rather than the baby animals’ mouths (only some of which, on close inspection, appear to be open). It also fails to be funny.

Plotless and pointless, the book clearly exists only because its celebrity author wrote it. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: June 9, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-250-00934-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Review Posted Online: April 15, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2015

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