A spot of exquisite rest in an overstimulated world.

THREE LITTLE PEAS

Evocative details make this simple story a quiet delight.

Two peas “pop out” of their pods to “get some air” and end up having a little adventure in the garden. Fleeing from would-be predators, they find a safe place under the ground to hide. Of course, being peas, they end up sprouting into pea plants that create new peas, one of which sets out at the end of the story on its own adventure, thereby continuing the circle of nature. Rivoal’s soft black-and-white etchings (the only color is the green of the peas) render a dreamlike, stylized depiction of vegetation that harkens back to the jungle paintings of fellow French artist Henri Rousseau. This book can only be fully appreciated by lingering on each spread, and the minimal text encourages such close looking. Flora and fauna are detailed with loving care and humor—a carrot with glasses, an expressive turnip and a cat hidden until the mischievous peas point it out are all waiting to be discovered by readers. Depictions of treasures lost (a ring, a key and a toy truck, among others) in the soil enhance the story’s theme of the mystery and magic of the world and the wonder of seeing it through new eyes.

A spot of exquisite rest in an overstimulated world. (Picture book. 2-5)

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-59270-155-1

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Enchanted Lion Books

Review Posted Online: July 16, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2014

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A worthwhile message that just doesn't quite fly.

NO TWO ALIKE

A sadly lackluster paean to the premise that “no two snowflakes are alike, / almost, almost… / but not quite.”

Beginning with snowflakes, Baker then branches out to celebrate the uniqueness of other things, some found in nature, some manmade—nests, branches, leaves and forests. “No two fences, long and low, / no two roads—where do they go? / No two bridges, wood or stone, / no two houses— / anyone home?” His ultimate message, arrived at on almost the final page, is that every living thing is one of a kind. While it is certainly an important message, the very young may not make the leap from the animals and things that populate the book to humans, which make no appearance. Baker’s digital illustrations fill the spreads with simple shapes and soft, woodsy colors. The two red birds (rather like crestless cardinals) that fly through this wintry wonderland steal the show. Their expressions are adorable, their antics endearing and rather anthropomorphic—one skis, while the other tries to pelt a fox with snowballs. But they may not be enough to carry the flat text and lack of a story line. Indeed, the book depends on the rhymes and the cute birds to keep the pages turning.

A worthwhile message that just doesn't quite fly. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-4424-1742-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Beach Lane/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Sept. 14, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2011

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Preschoolers need to learn how plants grow. This supplies the basics, but novelty (an arguably waning term for app imitators...

PLANT THE TINY SEED

This companion to Matheson’s two previous titles featuring interactivity (Tap the Magic Tree, 2013; Touch the Brightest Star, 2015) encourages listeners to tap, press, and swipe their way through gardening.

In addition to exerting agency over the planting and nurturing of seeds, children are invited to count and look for a ladybug. The directions (which are very similar to previous books) are presented in uninspired rhymes: “Wiggle your fingers / to add some water. // That’s enough. / Next, rub the sun to make it hotter.” The narrative unfolds on white pages with a low horizon line created where the soil ends; this brown border fills half an inch or so at the bottom of each page. The red insect, small seeds, and a pale-blue watering spout are gradually added, and isolated natural elements make brief cameos. Presumably the low-key design is meant to contrast with the concluding collage depicting three zinnias, several bees and butterflies, and a hummingbird, but viewers will likely get restless without more-exciting results rewarding their efforts along the way. Whereas pages of different colors and a tree that filled each composition, changing with the seasons, provided visual interest in Tap the Magic Tree, these scenes feel empty for too long.

Preschoolers need to learn how plants grow. This supplies the basics, but novelty (an arguably waning term for app imitators on paper) is not a substitute for compelling art. (notes) (Picture book. 2-5)

Pub Date: Jan. 24, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-239339-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Review Posted Online: Oct. 19, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2016

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