Younger siblings of the Mercy chapter-book lovers will find their way into the series with this first look, written just for...

A PIGLET NAMED MERCY

To paraphrase an immortal spider, Mercy is some pig.

Mercy Watson, a “small and not at all ordinary” pig, is already the star of six early chapter books, well-known for her love of buttered toast and, of course, of Mr. and Mrs. Watson, the white couple who care for her. But how did Mercy come to live with the Watsons? And how did they discover her love for buttered toast? Written simply for the pre–chapter-book audience, with big, bright, often full-spread illustrations, this picture book offers an introduction to Mercy, “the porcine wonder,” with all the dramatic expressions and gentle humor of the chapter books and some irresistible pig cuteness sprinkled in for extra charm. Vivid colors cause each illustration to pop, with a retro style to the Watsons’ rosy cheeks, classic car, and rather traditional gender roles (Mrs. Watson vacuums, Mr. Watson polishes the car). An unnamed interracial family seen through a window references two characters introduced as school-age children in the fourth installment of the chapter-book series: Frank and Stella, he as a toddler and she as a baby. Since the target audience for this outing will have no familiarity with them, their presence mostly serves to underscore the otherwise all-white human cast.

Younger siblings of the Mercy chapter-book lovers will find their way into the series with this first look, written just for them . (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: April 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-7636-7753-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Feb. 17, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2019

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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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Though Penguin doesn’t discover any of his own true talents, young listeners will probably empathize with wanting something...

FLIGHT SCHOOL

From the Flight School series

A small round penguin with lofty aspirations finds success of a sort in a sweet, if slight, appreciation of the resourcefulness of teachers.

The sign near a cluster of wooden pilings in the middle of the water reads “FLIGHT SCHOOL / WE TEACH BIRDS TO FLY.” “I was hatched to fly,” announces Penguin upon his arrival from the South Pole. “I have the soul of an eagle,” he assures the gently dubious Teacher. “Penguin and the other birdies practiced for weeks,” but he succeeds only in plunging into the ocean—not terribly gracefully. He is ready to give up when a solution devised by Teacher and Flamingo has Penguin flying, if only for a few moments, and his happiness at this one-time achievement is lasting. Judge’s edge-to-edge watercolor-and-pencil art is lively and amusing. Her various sea and shore birds—gulls, a pelican, a heron and a small owl among them—and their fledglings are just a little scruffy, and they are exaggeratedly, expressively funny in their anthropomorphic roles as teachers and students. Background shades of warm yellow, sea blue and green, and brown sand let the friendly, silly faces and bodies of the birds take center stage.

Though Penguin doesn’t discover any of his own true talents, young listeners will probably empathize with wanting something so far out of reach. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: April 15, 2014

ISBN: 978-14424-8177-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: Feb. 5, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2014

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