On the whole, sophisticated, subtle, and stunning.

READ REVIEW

ABC DREAM

A wordless alphabet book becomes an identification game.

It’s the ink-and-watercolor illustrations that set this apart from others of its ilk, with striking page compositions that will engage readers. Each capital letter dominates the page, most in double-page spreads and often decorated, with white backgrounds that dramatize the objects it stands for. At first glance there seems to be only one or two items per letter. On a closer look, other items appear. On top of the letter A, for instance, are two arrows piercing a whole apple, while at the bottom, scads of ants attack an eaten apple core. Kids will easily name the apple, ants, and arrows but are likely to miss the argyle plaid that fills in the letter. Other letters are also textured with fabrics or wood. There aren’t many surprises for the “difficult” letters: Q is for Quail, Quarters, Queen, and Quilt pattern; U is for Unicorn (depicted Upside-down); X is for X-ray; Y is for Yarn; and Z is for Zigzag, Zinnia, and Zebra. Even when the items depicted are fairly unimaginative, though, the execution is superb, and the Goose sitting in Grass watching Grasshoppers gambol on the G makes up for a lot. A two-page key at the back identifies each of the items.

On the whole, sophisticated, subtle, and stunning. (Alphabet book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 19, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-553-53929-5

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Sept. 16, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2015

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Thank you, Gerald and Piggie. We’ll miss you

THE THANK YOU BOOK

From the Elephant & Piggie series

Piggie is “one lucky pig,” and she’s determined to make sure she thanks “everyone who is important to” her in this, the final Elephant & Piggie book.

Gerald is sure his friend will forget someone—“someone important”—but Piggie assures him, “It will be a THANK-O-RAMA!” Piggie proceeds to thank the Squirrels for their great ideas, Snake for playing ball, and the Pigeon “for never giving up.” Piggie thanks and thanks: “I am a thanking machine!” She thanks character after character, even the Flies (“Any time, dude!”), as Gerald continues to interject that she’ll forget “someone VERY important.” Finally Piggie runs out of thanks, and by this time Gerald is steamed. “I goofed,” Piggie says in itty-bitty type, before lavishing thanks on Gerald. But that’s not whom Piggie forgot to thank! A classic Willems tantrum later, Gerald reveals the “someone important”: “Our reader.” Of course. “We could not be ‘us’ without you,” says Gerald, earnestly looking out from the page, and Piggie chimes in, “You are the best!” As Elephant & Piggie books go, this isn’t one of the strongest, but it is a validating valediction to fans of the two characters, who have won Willems two Geisel Medals and five Honors. Yes, Gerald and Piggie have ushered countless readers into literacy, but as they rightly note, reading is a collaborative act.

Thank you, Gerald and Piggie. We’ll miss you . (Early reader. 5-8)

Pub Date: May 3, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4231-7828-6

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: May 10, 2016

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Sweet—and savory.

THE KEEPER OF WILD WORDS

When a girl visits her grandmother, a writer and “grand friend,” she is seeking something special to share at show and tell on the first day of school.

Before Brook can explain, Mimi expresses concern that certain words describing the natural world will disappear if someone doesn’t care for and use them. (An author’s note explains the author’s motivation: She had read of the removal of 100 words about outdoor phenomena from the Oxford Junior Dictionary.) The duo sets out to search for and experience the 19 words on Mimi’s list, from “acorn” and “buttercup” to “violet” and “willow.” Kloepper’s soft illustrations feature green and brown earth tones that frame the white, matte pages; bursts of red, purple, and other spot colors enliven the scenes. Both Mimi and Brook are depicted as white. The expedition is described in vivid language, organized as free verse in single sentences or short paragraphs. Key words are printed in color in a larger display type and capital letters. Sensory details allow the protagonist to hear, see, smell, taste, and hold the wild: “ ‘Quick! Make a wish!’ said Mimi, / holding out a DANDELION, / fairy dust sitting on a stem. / ‘Blow on it and the seeds will fly. / Your tiny wishes in the air.’ ” It’s a day of wonder, with a touch of danger and a solution to Brook’s quest. The last page forms an envelope for readers’ own vocabulary collections.

Sweet—and savory. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: March 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4521-7073-2

Page Count: 62

Publisher: Chronicle

Review Posted Online: Dec. 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2020

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