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NOT YET ZEBRA

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

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 24, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2018

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YOUR BABY'S FIRST WORD WILL BE DADA

Plotless and pointless, the book clearly exists only because its celebrity author wrote it.

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 14, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2015

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GOOD NIGHT OWL

A funny tale about stress and an ever upping ante, with a comforting end.

Something is preventing Owl from falling asleep.

Owl leans back against his white pillow and headboard. “Squeek!” says something underneath the bed. Owl’s never heard that sound before, so he fastens his pink bathrobe and answers the front door. Nobody. It must be the wind; back to bed. Bidding himself goodnight, he climbs into bed—and hears the noise again. Time after time, he pops out of bed seeking the squeaker. Is it in the cupboard? He empties the shelves. Under the floor? He pulls up his floorboards. As Owl’s actions ratchet up—he destroys the roof and smashes the walls, all in search of the squeak—so does his anxiety. Not until he hunkers down in bed under the night sky (his bed is now outdoors, because the house’s roof and walls are gone), frantically clutching his pillow, does he see what readers have seen all along: a small, gray mouse. In simple illustrations with black outlines, textured coloring, and foreshortened perspective, Pizzoli plays mischievously with mouse placement. Sometimes the mouse is behind Owl or just out of his sightline; other times, the mouse is on a solid, orange-colored page across the spread from Owl, which removes him from Owl’s scene in a rather postmodern manner. Is the mouse toying with Owl? Who knows?

A funny tale about stress and an ever upping ante, with a comforting end. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: April 19, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4847-1275-7

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Jan. 19, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2016

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