QUILT ALPHABET

Rich illustrations and a rhyming text create a puzzle for each letter of the alphabet, inviting a young reader to guess what word the letter might represent. Warm-hearted and generous-spirited paintings provide visual answers. The answers are also found in a key at the end. Objects as American as Apples and Pie are utilized and the theme of Quilts sews it all together. A crazy-quilt pattern decorates the endpapers, each uppercase letter of the alphabet is framed as in the square of a quilt, and many of the illustrations are framed as well. With few exceptions, the objects are tangible, and within the experience of pre-schoolers. The few intangibles (Night, Yellow) are unexpected and therefore more difficult to guess. The oversized format and lush illustrations are strongly appealing; color in all of the paintings is rich and saturated. Painterly brush strokes add depth and elegance to the folksy style. Excellent book design features each letter and text in a way that is easy to see without interfering with the illustrations. The weakest element is the rhyming text. Although the clues are generally good, the rhymes are weakened by cliché. At worst, they suggest advertising copy, as for Apples: “Nature’s handpicked treat / Wholesome goodness to the core.” Some are simply confusing, as the tea Kettle “Captures the cold under its lid / And warms you through and through.” Nonetheless, the graphic appeal is so strong that youngsters in groups or on their own should be drawn to the pictures and to guessing the names of the objects. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2001

ISBN: 0-8234-1453-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2001

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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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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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