A cheery run through the ABCs, with a bit of a message about lining up and awaiting one’s turn slipped in.

NOT YET ZEBRA

As animals queue up alphabetically to have their portraits painted, pesky Zebra keeps trying to jump the line.

In exuberantly spattered watercolors, Annie, a small, redheaded white girl with an easel, invites Aardvark, Bear, and the other animals forward one at a time for broadly brushed pictures with upper- and lowercase letters (all assembled in a closing gallery on the rear endpapers). Along the way she gently but repeatedly has to push importunate Zebra to the back: “I need Gorilla and Hamster and… / What did I say? / Not yet, Zebra. Please go away!” Zebra (not unlike Mo Willems’ Pigeon, though nonverbal) turns out to be hard to discourage, but sad looks, disguises, and pushy behavior all turn out to be equally fruitless. And, when Zebra’s turn finally, finally comes, he’s nowhere to be found—having, no surprise, fallen asleep in bed. Like the young artist, budding abecedarians will be amused. There are few surprises in the lineup of animals, but the mix is a lively one, and even the animals who are observing proper order have plenty of personality on offer.

A cheery run through the ABCs, with a bit of a message about lining up and awaiting one’s turn slipped in. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: June 26, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-571-34288-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Faber & Faber

Review Posted Online: April 25, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 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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It’s a bit hard to dance, or count, to this beat.

ONE MORE DINO ON THE FLOOR

Dinos that love to move and groove get children counting from one to 10—and perhaps moving to the beat.

Beginning with a solo bop by a female dino (she has eyelashes, doncha know), the dinosaur dance party begins. Each turn of the page adds another dino and a change in the dance genre: waltz, country line dancing, disco, limbo, square dancing, hip-hop, and swing. As the party would be incomplete without the moonwalk, the T. Rex does the honors…and once they are beyond their initial panic at his appearance, the onlookers cheer wildly. The repeated refrain on each spread allows for audience participation, though it doesn’t easily trip off the tongue: “They hear a swish. / What’s this? / One more? / One more dino on the floor.” Some of the prehistoric beasts are easily identifiable—pterodactyl, ankylosaurus, triceratops—but others will be known only to the dino-obsessed; none are identified, other than T-Rex. Packed spreads filled with psychedelically colored dinos sporting blocks of color, stripes, or polka dots (and infectious looks of joy) make identification even more difficult, to say nothing of counting them. Indeed, this fails as a counting primer: there are extra animals (and sometimes a grumpy T-Rex) in the backgrounds, and the next dino to join the party pokes its head into the frame on the page before. Besides all that, most kids won’t get the dance references.

It’s a bit hard to dance, or count, to this beat. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: March 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-8075-1598-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Whitman

Review Posted Online: Jan. 20, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2016

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