It is an enchanting evening to remember (and a fine reminder that even a primary concept can get dressed up).

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MOUSEQUERADE BALL

A COUNTING TALE

From one to 10 and back again, the mice get ready for the ball.

One lone mouse begins preparations by striking a fire in the grand fireplace. Two others scurry around with brooms to swish the castle clean. “Three fine mice in black-tie suits / tighten up the strings of their thumb-strum lutes.” It is time to don a mask and waltz at the Mousequerade Ball. Eight lords twirl their walking sticks with haughty importance, and nine buccaneers tip their elaborate, feathered hats in debonair bows. However, the 10 ladies, dressed in elegant finery, suddenly let out a terrified gasp. Who has arrived at the door but a…CAT! (Alas, the dramatic double-page close-up of the cat’s face is sadly, distractingly bisected by the pages’ gutter.) Mortensen frantically trips back down the number line as mice scatter to hide: “Six eager mice race beneath a rug. / Five plump mice squeeze into a jug.” But the last mouse realizes that the cat has come for the same reason as everyone else. She proffers her little paw, and they dance the night away. The spry toes of Lewin’s tiny mice glide along the text’s sprightly beat, her signature thick, flowing black line delineating features and finery and lending the rodents personality and movement.

It is an enchanting evening to remember (and a fine reminder that even a primary concept can get dressed up). (Picture book. 2-5)

Pub Date: May 17, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-61963-422-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: Feb. 17, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2016

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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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Likely to be popular with young Pete the Cat fans and parents seeking a gentle introduction to preschool.

PETE THE KITTY'S FIRST DAY OF PRESCHOOL

From the Pete the Cat series

The popular character enjoys storytime, painting, and a snack on the very first day of preschool.

The younger incarnation of Pete the Cat packs his backpack that he picked out from the store himself, gets a snack from his mom, and rides the school bus with his big brother, Bob (who isn’t much bigger than Pete, sizewise). At school, Pete meets his stylish teacher, Mrs. Lopez, and fellow feline classmates while keeping his signature cool. The day ends with Pete declaring: “Preschool is awesome! Pete loves everything!” James Dean’s big-eyed cats populate the simply drawn scenes that look as though they were painted in preschool-esque fashion with thick swaths of tempera. At a couple of moments (when he eats his banana and declares it tasty and when he sings along) his customarily expressionless face actually breaks into a smile. Kimberly Dean’s text is uninspired, but it’s in sync with the upbeat tone of the series. Pete’s preschool experience, while not particularly realistic, is a highly positive one; refreshingly, there is no trace of the separation anxiety or anxiousness found in many first-day-of-school books.

Likely to be popular with young Pete the Cat fans and parents seeking a gentle introduction to preschool. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: June 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06243582-8

Page Count: 24

Publisher: HarperFestival

Review Posted Online: July 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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