Skip the small print and linger instead on the seasonal glory unfolding as the pages turn.

FALL LEAVES

Autumn arrives in a series of three-dimensional tableaux created from cut yupo (plastic) paper and ink; illuminated from varying angles, the vignettes are cleverly photographed and cropped for dramatic effect.

A redheaded boy and girl play in a treehouse, bike through the countryside, watch birds take flight and dance with umbrellas in scenes that include intense light or brilliant autumnal colors. The duo is generally in sharp focus, while borders and backgrounds are blurred, a decision suggesting depth, motion or otherworldliness, depending on the composition. The text has two layers. On one level, the large, two-word concepts that function as headings on each verso could be read as the sole verbal narrative. There is a playful quality as a word’s meaning changes relative to its use as a noun or verb: “FLOWERS LEAVE / APPLES FALL / LEAVES FALL / FALL STAYS / LEAVES LEAVE.” Although this verbal chain misses some opportunities for more artful linkages, the real problem lies with the second layer of text. Holland tries to provide scientific explanations about the Earth’s rotation, chlorophyll, hibernation, etc., without the benefit of diagrams or much in the way of scientific context. The effect is a lengthy muddle of didactic distraction that is not appropriate for the target age or the ethereal illustrations.

Skip the small print and linger instead on the seasonal glory unfolding as the pages turn. (activity) (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 2, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-544-10664-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: May 28, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2014

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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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Indeed, no one will be able to resist this baby.

BABY GOES TO MARKET

Baby is so charming that various vendors in this West African market gift him all sorts of yummies.

Baby rides on Mama’s back, held snug by a bright cloth wrap. Mama navigates the busy, colorful outdoor market, her woven basket balanced on her head. The text unrolls rhythmically in Atinuke’s storyteller’s voice: “Market is very crowded. Baby is very curious. Baby is so curious that Mrs. Ade, the banana seller, gives Baby six bananas.” Baby eats one and puts the remaining bananas in Mama’s basket. All the while Mama shops, unbeknownst to her, vendors continue to respond to Baby’s transparent delight with five oranges, four “sugary chin-chin biscuits,” three “roasted sweet corn,” and two pieces of coconut. With each delicacy given, Baby eats one and puts the rest in the basket. When Mama sees all the extra foodstuffs she didn’t buy, she’s concerned, until the vendors reassure her: “We gave those things to Baby!” In her debut picture book, Brooksbank offers bright, bustling tableaux of shoppers, vendors, and goods. The smiling, all-black cast sort through myriad wares, while the text keeps up its rhythm, introducing both typical items bought in a West African market and a gentle lesson in arithmetic as Baby alternately snacks on and stashes his gifts.

Indeed, no one will be able to resist this baby. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-7636-9570-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Aug. 21, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2017

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