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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A hilarious autumnal comedy of errors.

THE LEAF THIEF

A confused squirrel overreacts to the falling autumn leaves.

Relaxing on a tree branch, Squirrel admires the red, gold, and orange leaves. Suddenly Squirrel screams, “One of my leaves is…MISSING!” Searching for the leaf, Squirrel tells Bird, “Someone stole my leaf!” Spying Mouse sailing in a leaf boat, Squirrel asks if Mouse stole the leaf. Mouse calmly replies in the negative. Bird reminds Squirrel it’s “perfectly normal to lose a leaf or two at this time of year.” Next morning Squirrel panics again, shrieking, “MORE LEAVES HAVE BEEN STOLEN!” Noticing Woodpecker arranging colorful leaves, Squirrel queries, “Are those my leaves?” Woodpecker tells Squirrel, “No.” Again, Bird assures Squirrel that no one’s taking the leaves and that the same thing happened last year, then encourages Squirrel to relax. Too wired to relax despite some yoga and a bath, the next day Squirrel cries “DISASTER” at the sight of bare branches. Frantic now, Squirrel becomes suspicious upon discovering Bird decorating with multicolored leaves. Is Bird the culprit? In response, Bird shows Squirrel the real Leaf Thief: the wind. Squirrel’s wildly dramatic, misguided, and hyperpossessive reaction to a routine seasonal event becomes a rib-tickling farce through clever use of varying type sizes and weights emphasizing his absurd verbal pronouncements as well as exaggerated, comic facial expressions and body language. Bold colors, arresting perspectives, and intense close-ups enhance Squirrel’s histrionics. Endnotes explain the science behind the phenomenon.

A hilarious autumnal comedy of errors. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-7282-3520-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Review Posted Online: June 2, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2021

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While this is a fairly bland treatment compared to Deborah Lee Rose and Carey Armstrong-Ellis’ The Twelve Days of...

ON THE FIRST DAY OF KINDERGARTEN

Rabe follows a young girl through her first 12 days of kindergarten in this book based on the familiar Christmas carol.

The typical firsts of school are here: riding the bus, making friends, sliding on the playground slide, counting, sorting shapes, laughing at lunch, painting, singing, reading, running, jumping rope, and going on a field trip. While the days are given ordinal numbers, the song skips the cardinal numbers in the verses, and the rhythm is sometimes off: “On the second day of kindergarten / I thought it was so cool / making lots of friends / and riding the bus to my school!” The narrator is a white brunette who wears either a tunic or a dress each day, making her pretty easy to differentiate from her classmates, a nice mix in terms of race; two students even sport glasses. The children in the ink, paint, and collage digital spreads show a variety of emotions, but most are happy to be at school, and the surroundings will be familiar to those who have made an orientation visit to their own schools.

While this is a fairly bland treatment compared to Deborah Lee Rose and Carey Armstrong-Ellis’ The Twelve Days of Kindergarten (2003), it basically gets the job done. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: June 21, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-06-234834-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 4, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2016

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