Endearing, engaging, and environmentalist.



A sequel to Billions of Bricks (2016) follows one family’s never-ending tree-planting project.

“We never meant to plant a tree,” says a brown-skinned kid with straight dark hair. Sister Lizzie, apparently White with light brown hair, asked for “a trillium, please,” but the plant store employee misheard her, dooming the siblings and their parents (who look like older versions of Lizzie) to a hopelessly huge arboreal job, planting the first shipment of 1,000 in batches of 100 wherever they can find room. While the narrator first appears oddly disembodied against a white background, the following full-bleed illustrations are detailed and dynamic. Unfortunately, it’s difficult to count 100 trees in a spread, no matter how well the illustrator spaces them out. The text also doesn’t make it totally clear that 10 hundreds add up to make “a thousand” by the end. Rather than a counting exercise, this book might better serve as an introduction to tree types: “Spruce and hemlock. Cedar, too. / A fir for her, a yew for you.” As in Billions, the kids join a multiracial group of neighbors, planting in parks, along roadsides, and even amid the remains of a fire. Turn the book vertically for one spread showing a full-grown sequoia. The rhymes aren’t quite as snappy as the ones in Billions, but they’re still fun. With any luck, the note that “there are more than three trillion trees in the world” will give readers enough of a sense of the 999,999,999,000-tree gap between a thousand and a trillion. (This book was reviewed digitally with 11-by-17-inch double-page spreads viewed at 45% of actual size.)

Endearing, engaging, and environmentalist. (tree facts) (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: March 16, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-22907-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Christy Ottaviano/Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Dec. 25, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2021

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As ephemeral as a valentine.


Daywalt and Jeffers’ wandering crayons explore love.

Each double-page spread offers readers a vision of one of the anthropomorphic crayons on the left along with the statement “Love is [color].” The word love is represented by a small heart in the appropriate color. Opposite, childlike crayon drawings explain how that color represents love. So, readers learn, “love is green. / Because love is helpful.” The accompanying crayon drawing depicts two alligators, one holding a recycling bin and the other tossing a plastic cup into it, offering readers two ways of understanding green. Some statements are thought-provoking: “Love is white. / Because sometimes love is hard to see,” reaches beyond the immediate image of a cat’s yellow eyes, pink nose, and black mouth and whiskers, its white face and body indistinguishable from the paper it’s drawn on, to prompt real questions. “Love is brown. / Because sometimes love stinks,” on the other hand, depicted by a brown bear standing next to a brown, squiggly turd, may provoke giggles but is fundamentally a cheap laugh. Some of the color assignments have a distinctly arbitrary feel: Why is purple associated with the imagination and pink with silliness? Fans of The Day the Crayons Quit (2013) hoping for more clever, metaliterary fun will be disappointed by this rather syrupy read.

As ephemeral as a valentine. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Dec. 24, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5247-9268-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Penguin Workshop

Review Posted Online: Feb. 2, 2021

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Plotless and pointless, the book clearly exists only because its celebrity author wrote it.


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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