Joining a bumper crop of gardening titles, this suffices without standing out.

THANK YOU, GARDEN

A diverse, intergenerational community works together in an urban garden.

Scanlon’s spare, rhyming text reads like an upbeat playground chant: “Garden ready, / garden new // Garden so much / work to do!” Verses cheerfully acknowledge the garden’s denizens—humans, flora, and fauna—as well as the chores and patience that yield the harvest. Shin’s flat, minimalist paintings depict four square raised beds with a red picnic table at their center. Stylized plants, some identifiable, most not, populate the plots rather primly, with lots of soil in between; only the tomatoes vine and twine with genuine exuberance as days pass. Children work, but the littlest two primarily play—with small vehicles, water, mud, and the garden’s critters. Though many skin tones are represented among the seven gardeners, facial features are rudimentary: black dots for eyes, red triangular noses, black crescents and triangles for mouths. Outfits change throughout, adding interest, and readers can spot a toy garden gnome that appears frequently. As the group prepares to gather at the table for a big salad, veggies, and luscious strawberries, Scanlon closes with lines of metaphor and gratitude: “Garden growing like a child, / rosy, / leggy, / fresh, and wild— // Wild in this muddy mess, / garden, thank you…. // Garden, yes!”

Joining a bumper crop of gardening titles, this suffices without standing out. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4814-0350-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Beach Lane/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2019

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Fun enough to read once but without enough substance to last.

GREEN IS FOR CHRISTMAS

Familiar crayon characters argue over which color is the essential Christmas color.

Green starts by saying that green is for Christmas. After all, green is for holly. But Red objects. Red is for candy canes. Green is for fir trees, Green retorts. But Red is for Santa Claus, who agrees. (Santa is depicted as a white-bearded White man.) Then White joins the fray. After spending the year being invisible, White isn’t giving up the distinction of association with Christmas. Snow, anyone? But then there’s Silver: stars and bells. And Brown: cookies and reindeer! At this point, everyone is confused. But they come together and agree that Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without all of them together. Someone may get the last word, though. In Daywalt and Jeffers’ now-signature style, the crayon-written text is spare and humorous, while the crayon characters engage with each other against a bare white background, vying for attention. Dot-eyed faces and stick legs on each object turn them all into comical, if similar, personalities. But the series’ original cleverness is absent here, leaving readers with a perfunctory recitation of attributes. Fans of the crayon books may delight in another themed installment; those who aren’t already fans will likely find it lacking. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Fun enough to read once but without enough substance to last. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Oct. 19, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-35338-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 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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