Although the complex form is challenging to imitate, this tale will surely spark fun wordplay; successful practitioners will...

READ REVIEW

ANN AND NAN ARE ANAGRAMS

A MIXED-UP WORD DILEMMA

It is bad enough that Robert’s Mom and Dad Are Palindromes (2006), but when he learns that his sisters are anagrams, it nearly sends him over the edge. 

To Shulman’s credit, while presenting the “more than 101” (according to the jacket) different word, phrase or sentence pairs that have the same letters, he manages to create a plot with a problem for his hero to resolve: “Grandma Reagan is in Anagram Danger.” The strategic use of distinct typographies for the wordplay and the mirroring of color for specific letters in selected pairs will help readers see just how true this and other statements are—literally. They will have a field day tracking the word puzzles, from the cross-stitched Neil Armstrong quote (and its re-phrased version) on the endpapers to the “Despaired dried peas” and “Old Nose noodles” in Grandma’s pantry. McCauley’s mixed-media compositions, rendered in primary colors, take inspiration from comic books, The Twilight Zone and pop art for a mid-20th-century aesthetic. The far-fetched and funny conclusion featuring a giant “tuna” is an appropriate match for the opening, in which grandma sends Robert to find his “aunt,” but only the savviest of vocabulary aficionados will have seen it coming. Repeated readings reveal more playfulness, starting with the dedication.

Although the complex form is challenging to imitate, this tale will surely spark fun wordplay; successful practitioners will fawn proudly. (Picture book. 6-10)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-4521-0914-5

Page Count: 36

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 14, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2013

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Amusing, yes. Useful for reading practice, yes, but not necessarily guaranteed to make new readers the “read-i-est.” (Early...

WE ARE GROWING!

From the Elephant & Piggie Like Reading! series

Elephant and Piggie make an appearance to introduce the first in their new series, an egalitarian introduction to superlatives.

Each one of seven blades of talking grass—of a total of eight—discovers that it is superb at something: it’s tallest, curliest, silliest, and so forth. The humor aims to appeal to a broad spectrum. It is slightly disturbing that one being eaten by purple bugs is proud of being the crunchiest, but that will certainly appeal to a slice of the audience. The eighth blade of grass is grappling with a philosophical identity crisis; its name is Walt, a sly reference to Whitman's Leaves of Grass that will go right over the heads of beginning readers but may amuse astute parents or teachers. Tension builds with the approach of a lawn mower; the blades of grass lose their unique features when they are trimmed to equal heights. Mercifully, they are chopped off right above the eyes and can continue their silly banter. Departing from the image of a Whitman-esque free spirit, Walt now discovers he is the neatest. Lots of speech bubbles, repetition, and clear layout make this entry a useful addition to lessons on adjectives and superlatives while delivering a not-so-subtle message that everyone is good at something. Elephant and Piggie's final assertion that “this book is the FUNNIEST” doesn't necessarily make it so, however.

Amusing, yes. Useful for reading practice, yes, but not necessarily guaranteed to make new readers the “read-i-est.” (Early reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 20, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4847-2635-8

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: June 22, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2016

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A multilayered, endearing treasure of a day.

MY DAY WITH GONG GONG

Spending a day with Gong Gong doesn’t sound like very much fun to May.

Gong Gong doesn’t speak English, and May doesn’t know Chinese. How can they have a good day together? As they stroll through an urban Chinatown, May’s perpetually sanguine maternal grandfather chats with friends and visits shops. At each stop, Cantonese words fly back and forth, many clearly pointed at May, who understands none of it. It’s equally exasperating trying to communicate with Gong Gong in English, and by the time they join a card game in the park with Gong Gong’s friends, May is tired, hungry, and frustrated. But although it seems like Gong Gong hasn’t been attentive so far, when May’s day finally comes to a head, it is clear that he has. First-person text gives glimpses into May’s lively thoughts as they evolve through the day, and Gong Gong’s unchangingly jolly face reflects what could be mistaken for blithe obliviousness but is actually his way of showing love through sharing the people and places of his life. Through adorable illustrations that exude humor and warmth, this portrait of intergenerational affection is also a tribute to life in Chinatown neighborhoods: Street vendors, a busker playing a Chinese violin, a dim sum restaurant, and more all combine to add a distinctive texture. 

A multilayered, endearing treasure of a day. (glossary) (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 8, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-77321-429-0

Page Count: 36

Publisher: Annick Press

Review Posted Online: June 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2020

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A treasure house of mysteries large and small.

EVERYBODY COUNTS

A COUNTING STORY FROM 0 TO 7.5 BILLION

This Norwegian import is guaranteed to silence boastful Where’s Waldo grads.

It opens on a woodsy nature scene for zero, “No one,” before moving to a deceptively simple one (1) child in a bedroom who next joins his dad (2) for a forest outing. The count continues—by single digits to 30, then by various intervals to 1,000—on to depict crowd scenes in locales ranging from a library to a life drawing class, with many individualized figures (of diverse body type, skin tone, and hair texture and color) recurring. Inconspicuous captions below each picture offer either pointers to subtle visual cues or invitations to speculate about what they see. Of the 20 children in a classroom, for instance, “One of them is thinking about all the people who’ve lived before us. One of them has lost the class teddy bear. One of them is dreading football training. One of them will become prime minister.” Roskifte supplies some solutions, along with additional scenarios, at the close. She also gives viewers a bit of an assist by coloring in her small, doll-like humans throughout but leaving everything else as pale outlines. Switching at the end to a big blue marble floating in space, she rounds off the numbering with 7.5 billion followed by a barrage of leading questions, from what became of that lost teddy to lifelong posers, including the poignant “Does everyone share the same truth?”

A treasure house of mysteries large and small. (Picture book. 6-10)

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-7112-4524-2

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Wide Eyed Editions

Review Posted Online: Dec. 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2020

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