Inspired and inspiring, this is creative genius at work.

INSIDE OUTSIDE

In this wordless picture book, youngsters follow a boy through the seasons and see how the natural world influences his indoor projects and outdoor activities.

The ease with which he moves between the two spaces—inside to outside and back again with each page turn—and his subsequent productivity are emphasized by intriguing die-cut windows throughout. In the opening spread, mittens, boots and scarf are strewn about, clues that the boy has been outdoors; indeed, snowmen are visible through his windows. Yet he anticipates spring as he sits at the table planting seedlings. He takes a break to make more snowmen and then he’s back indoors, where he hangs his paintings of snowmen, appropriately melting, and birds. The seedlings sprout, and outside his windows, trees are in bud. Children will pore over the increasing number of details as the two worlds merge. Bird mobiles inside complement the birds outside; he keeps houseplants as well as a garden. At all times, glimpses through the windows show inside and outside in harmony. Beautifully paced, the boy’s endeavors encourage replication. This is a fine example of how nature sparks the imagination of the creator, whether sculptor, painter, gardener or crafter. Even the illustrations, gouache on brown Kraft paper, staples on many children’s art tables, invite tots to get busy.

Inspired and inspiring, this is creative genius at work. (Picture book. 2-6)

Pub Date: April 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-4521-0644-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: Feb. 13, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2013

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Innovative and thoroughly enjoyable.

ANIMAL SHAPES

You think you know shapes? Animals? Blend them together, and you might see them both a little differently!

What a mischievous twist on a concept book! With wordplay and a few groan-inducing puns, Neal creates connections among animals and shapes that are both unexpected and so seemingly obvious that readers might wonder why they didn’t see them all along. Of course, a “lazy turtle” meeting an oval would create the side-splitting combo of a “SLOW-VAL.” A dramatic page turn transforms a deeply saturated, clean-lined green oval by superimposing a head and turtle shell atop, with watery blue ripples completing the illusion. Minimal backgrounds and sketchy, impressionistic detailing keep the focus right on the zany animals. Beginning with simple shapes, the geometric forms become more complicated as the book advances, taking readers from a “soaring bird” that meets a triangle to become a “FLY-ANGLE” to a “sleepy lion” nonagon “YAWN-AGON.” Its companion text, Animal Colors, delves into color theory, this time creating entirely hybrid animals, such as the “GREEN WHION” with maned head and whale’s tail made from a “blue whale and a yellow lion.” It’s a compelling way to visualize color mixing, and like Animal Shapes, it’s got verve. Who doesn’t want to shout out that a yellow kangaroo/green moose blend is a “CHARTREUSE KANGAMOOSE”?

Innovative and thoroughly enjoyable. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: March 27, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4998-0534-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little Bee Books

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2018

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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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