Perhaps these peas have simply pea-tered out.

LMNO PEA-QUEL

From the Peas series

Baker’s industrious pea-ple are back for a fifth tour, this time delivering an A-to-Z look at work and play.

Colorful, digitally textured lowercase letters loom large against white space, cleverly integrated into the action. Firefighters use a ladder truck to train a hose on a small fire high atop the letter F. An S—strapped to the roof of a school bus filled with book-toting students—sports a row of saluting soldiers up on top. Among the standard community helpers, from architects to window washers, Baker inserts a bit of whimsy: there are pirates, a queen, and five “X-Peas” exhibiting their superpowers. There’s some deliberate, anthropomorphized diversity: a violinist is female (or at least has a ponytail) and uses a wheelchair; one soldier appears female (with hair in a bun), and most work crews have some female peas (so to speak). Genders are suggested by hairstyles, props, and purses. Depicting “jailbirds” for J seems jarringly tone-deaf. Three peas in stereotyped black-and-white striped uniforms peer sadly from a multilevel barred building topped with barbed wire; the letter itself is also incarcerated. (A guard snoozes in a chair below, while a smiling janitor mops the floor.) Admittedly, there’s fun for kids to discover here—from the vegetable horde’s teeming activities to a ladybug that appears on each double-page spread—but the text scans erratically, making for clunky read-alouds.

Perhaps these peas have simply pea-tered out. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: July 4, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4814-5856-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Beach Lane/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 1, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2017

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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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A comical, fresh look at crayons and color

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THE DAY THE CRAYONS QUIT

Duncan wants to draw, but instead of crayons, he finds a stack of letters listing the crayons’ demands in this humorous tale.

Red is overworked, laboring even on holidays. Gray is exhausted from coloring expansive spaces (elephants, rhinos and whales). Black wants to be considered a color-in color, and Peach? He’s naked without his wrapper! This anthropomorphized lot amicably requests workplace changes in hand-lettered writing, explaining their work stoppage to a surprised Duncan. Some are tired, others underutilized, while a few want official titles. With a little creativity and a lot of color, Duncan saves the day. Jeffers delivers energetic and playful illustrations, done in pencil, paint and crayon. The drawings are loose and lively, and with few lines, he makes his characters effectively emote. Clever spreads, such as Duncan’s “white cat in the snow” perfectly capture the crayons’ conundrum, and photographic representations of both the letters and coloring pages offer another layer of texture, lending to the tale’s overall believability.

A comical, fresh look at crayons and color . (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: June 27, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-399-25537-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: April 15, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2013

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