An upbeat work with some good talking points, particularly for schools with kindness and gratitude initiatives.

A NEW ALPHABET FOR HUMANITY

An alphabet picture book that presents complex ethical concepts in a pleasant format.

In this book intended for readers up to 7 years of age, McGregor explores concepts designed to promote notions related to empathy (the word that represents E). Each page presents a concept in simple and relatable terms in the first person, as in the entry for “Abundance”: “Abundance is knowing there is enough for you and enough for me.” Sosa’s sweet, full-color, cartoonish illustrations feature round-faced, large-eyed children of various skin colors and different abilities (two kids use wheelchairs, including one on the book’s cover). Although some definitions feel simple but complete (“I have compassion when I help someone in need”), others feel imprecise or reductive (“X is for Exhale”; “Diversity is accepting people who are different from me”), and systemic problems go unexamined. The images capture the tone of the text, offering bright, sunny optimism, even on a page that depicts a rainy day. The entries often provide clarifying context for more advanced words and never take a condescending tone. One mention of toys (“Quality is also having good toys that last a long time”), though, seems out of place in a book that otherwise highlights personal relationships and responsibility.

An upbeat work with some good talking points, particularly for schools with kindness and gratitude initiatives.

Pub Date: Dec. 9, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-77514-132-7

Page Count: 34

Publisher: Impact Humanity Publishing

Review Posted Online: March 5, 2021

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

YOUR BABY'S FIRST WORD WILL BE DADA

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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A comical, fresh look at crayons and color

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THE DAY THE CRAYONS QUIT

Duncan wants to draw, but instead of crayons, he finds a stack of letters listing the crayons’ demands in this humorous tale.

Red is overworked, laboring even on holidays. Gray is exhausted from coloring expansive spaces (elephants, rhinos and whales). Black wants to be considered a color-in color, and Peach? He’s naked without his wrapper! This anthropomorphized lot amicably requests workplace changes in hand-lettered writing, explaining their work stoppage to a surprised Duncan. Some are tired, others underutilized, while a few want official titles. With a little creativity and a lot of color, Duncan saves the day. Jeffers delivers energetic and playful illustrations, done in pencil, paint and crayon. The drawings are loose and lively, and with few lines, he makes his characters effectively emote. Clever spreads, such as Duncan’s “white cat in the snow” perfectly capture the crayons’ conundrum, and photographic representations of both the letters and coloring pages offer another layer of texture, lending to the tale’s overall believability.

A comical, fresh look at crayons and color . (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: June 27, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-399-25537-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: April 15, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2013

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