The ingredients may be standard, but the recipe yields a fresh, new dish that’s outstanding in almost every way.

I USED TO BE AFRAID

Standard Seeger ingredients of careful die-cuts, lush painting, and child-centered text combine in her latest picture book.

A striking cover shows a wide-eyed girl, her mouth agape, looking to the right and seeming to dread the book's opening. The title page doesn’t reveal what's scared her, increasing readers’ anticipation as the girl cowers behind a chair. Subsequent pages relate that she “used to be afraid of” spiders, shadows, and the dark; each fear is then followed by a double-page spread that resolves it with the line “but not anymore” and a picture that uses integral die-cuts to renegotiate the once-scary thing. For example, the scary spider is not-so-scary when the girl gazes in wonder at its web. Other, more abstract fears—of making a mistake, change, and being alone—are then articulated, deepening the emotional resonance of the character's experiences. Concluding spreads show her running from her big brother, who wears a scary mask. In a clever and honest twist, this fear isn't so easily resolved. "I used to be afraid of my big BROTHER / and I STILL AM!" she declares. Seeger saves the best for last, though, with the last page slyly adding "Sometimes" as the girl tries on the mask behind her unsuspecting brother, and then closing endpapers deliver a pleasing coda of sibling play.

The ingredients may be standard, but the recipe yields a fresh, new dish that’s outstanding in almost every way. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 29, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-59643-631-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Neal Porter/Roaring Brook

Review Posted Online: Aug. 1, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2015

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Safe to creep on by.

LOVE FROM THE VERY HUNGRY CATERPILLAR

Carle’s famous caterpillar expresses its love.

In three sentences that stretch out over most of the book’s 32 pages, the (here, at least) not-so-ravenous larva first describes the object of its love, then describes how that loved one makes it feel before concluding, “That’s why… / I[heart]U.” There is little original in either visual or textual content, much of it mined from The Very Hungry Caterpillar. “You are… / …so sweet,” proclaims the caterpillar as it crawls through the hole it’s munched in a strawberry; “…the cherry on my cake,” it says as it perches on the familiar square of chocolate cake; “…the apple of my eye,” it announces as it emerges from an apple. Images familiar from other works join the smiling sun that shone down on the caterpillar as it delivers assurances that “you make… / …the sun shine brighter / …the stars sparkle,” and so on. The book is small, only 7 inches high and 5 ¾ inches across when closed—probably not coincidentally about the size of a greeting card. While generations of children have grown up with the ravenous caterpillar, this collection of Carle imagery and platitudinous sentiment has little of his classic’s charm. The melding of Carle’s caterpillar with Robert Indiana’s iconic LOVE on the book’s cover, alas, draws further attention to its derivative nature.

Safe to creep on by. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Dec. 15, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-448-48932-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: Feb. 2, 2021

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

As ephemeral as a valentine.

LOVE FROM THE CRAYONS

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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more