Captures the magic of childhood summers, when colors are a song and a backyard can sing the wonders of the world.

SUMMER SONG

Henkes and Dronzek evoke the sights, sounds, and joys of summer, completing their celebratory seasonal quartet.

Captivating poetic text begins like a stream of consciousness: “The Summer sun is a giant flower, / and the flowers are like little suns. / Little suns of all different colors.” Brilliantly woven together, these accessible and seemingly simple similes and metaphors form a vibrant and sophisticated ode to nature. Readers will drink in the delicious cool shade, feel the sweltering sun, and revel in the lush green garden. Henkes hears summer’s song everywhere—in the wind through the grass, the birds in the sky, and the oceans and lakes. Onomatopoeia fills the air with the sounds of bees and dragonflies, juxtaposed with the silence of the glowing firefly. Uncomplicated acrylic paintings done in a primary palette will appeal to young animal lovers. Deeply saturated blues and greens capture the essence of the season, Dronzek’s characteristically firm black outlines helping animals, flowers, birds, insects, and humans pop. A multiracial cast of kids tend pets, cool off in the sprinkler, play in the sand, and watch clouds. As the season wanes, there’s delicious anticipation for autumn’s change. This lovely read-aloud will be savored, just like a summer’s day.

Captures the magic of childhood summers, when colors are a song and a backyard can sing the wonders of the world. (Picture book. 3-8)

Pub Date: April 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-286613-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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A riotously fresh take on breaking the fourth wall.

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THE BOOK WITH NO PICTURES

This book may not have pictures, but it’s sure to inspire lots of conversations—and laughs.

Television writer, actor and comedian Novak delivers a rare find, indeed: a very good celebrity picture book. It doesn’t even seem fair to call it such, since it has nothing to do with his Emmy Award–winning writing for The Office or the fame his broader career has afforded him. The jacket flap even eschews a glossy photo, instead saying “B.J. has brown hair and blue eyes,” in order to keep with the book’s central conceit. What this book does have is text, and it’s presented through artful typography that visually conveys its changing tone to guide oral readings. Furthermore, the text implies (or rather, demands) a shared reading transaction, in which an adult is compelled to read the text aloud, no matter how “COMPLETELY RIDICULOUS” it is. Employing direct address, it pleads with the implied child listener to allow him or her to stop reading. Nonsense words, silly words to be sung and even a smattering of potty talk for good measure all coalesce in riotous read-aloud fare. Although the closing pages beg the implied child reader to “please please please please / please / choose a book with pictures” for subsequent reading, it’s likely that this request will be ignored.

A riotously fresh take on breaking the fourth wall. (. (Picture book. 3-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 30, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-8037-4171-3

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: July 16, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2014

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Who ya gonna call? A different snowplow book.

SCOOPER AND DUMPER

Friends don’t let friends expire in snowdrifts.

Convoluted storytelling and confusing art turn a cute premise into a mishmash of a book. Scooper’s a front loader that works in the town salt yard, replenishing the snowplows that arrive. Dumper’s her best friend, more than happy to plow and salt the roads himself. When the big city calls in Dumper to help with a snow squall, he brushes off Scooper’s concerns. Yet slippery roads and a seven-vehicle pileup launch poor Dumper onto his side in a snowbank. Can Scooper overcome fears that she’s too slow and save the day? Following a plot as succinct as this should be a breeze, but the rhyming text obfuscates more than it clarifies. Lines such as, “Dumper’s here— / let’s rock ’n’ roll! / Big city’s callin’ for / some small-town soul” can prove impenetrable. The art of the book matches this confusion, with light-blue Dumper often hard to pick out among other, similarly colored vehicles, particularly in the snowstorm. Speech bubbles, as when the city calls for Scooper’s and Dumper’s help, lead to a great deal of visual confusion. Scooper is also featured sporting long eyelashes and a bow, lest anyone mistake the dithering, frightened truck as anything but female. (This book was reviewed digitally with 11-by-17-inch double-page spreads viewed at 16.8% of actual size.)

Who ya gonna call? A different snowplow book. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Nov. 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5420-9268-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Two Lions

Review Posted Online: Sept. 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2020

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