THE LOOKING BOOK

A HIDE-AND-SEEK COUNTING STORY

Bouncing verse takes Ned through the pages of the book as he searches for his lost cat Pistachio. Huliska-Beith’s (Recess Queen, 2002, etc.) bright acrylic-and-collage illustrations depict a rubber-limbed Ned and his bespectacled horse as they travel through a series of surreal landscapes, always missing the (appropriately) green cat. Each page of the story, from 1-28, is numbered prominently, and most include some grouping of objects to count; these range from the obvious-but-clever (four goldfish and four four-leaf clovers on page 4) to the obscure (22 stripes on the tiger on page 22) to the absent (no such groupings on pages 9 or 14, for instance), making the counting activity hit-or-miss. Pistachio herself is more or less easy to spot, but some spreads feature two facing single-page illustrations while some are double-page spreads; the logic of Pistachio-spotting varies according to the page layout. Hoberman’s (Bill Grogan’s Goat, above, etc.) text rollicks along cheerily enough at first, but becomes rhythmically monotonous by page 18 or so, and the “book” that Ned moves through has no unifying narrative arc to milk the metaliterary device. While children are likely to enjoy the game of finding Pistachio, adult readers may be grinding their teeth by the end. There are better counting books and hide-and-seek books available, and goodness knows that, in the year following Wiesner’s The Three Pigs, there are better books that deconstruct the notion of book. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: April 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-316-36328-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Megan Tingley/Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2002

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A welcome addition to autumnal storytelling—and to tales of traditional enemies overcoming their history.

THE SCARECROW

Ferry and the Fans portray a popular seasonal character’s unlikely friendship.

Initially, the protagonist is shown in his solitary world: “Scarecrow stands alone and scares / the fox and deer, / the mice and crows. / It’s all he does. It’s all he knows.” His presence is effective; the animals stay outside the fenced-in fields, but the omniscient narrator laments the character’s lack of friends or places to go. Everything changes when a baby crow falls nearby. Breaking his pole so he can bend, the scarecrow picks it up, placing the creature in the bib of his overalls while singing a lullaby. Both abandon natural tendencies until the crow learns to fly—and thus departs. The aabb rhyme scheme flows reasonably well, propelling the narrative through fall, winter, and spring, when the mature crow returns with a mate to build a nest in the overalls bib that once was his home. The Fan brothers capture the emotional tenor of the seasons and the main character in their panoramic pencil, ballpoint, and digital compositions. Particularly poignant is the close-up of the scarecrow’s burlap face, his stitched mouth and leaf-rimmed head conveying such sadness after his companion goes. Some adults may wonder why the scarecrow seems to have only partial agency, but children will be tuned into the problem, gratified by the resolution.

A welcome addition to autumnal storytelling—and to tales of traditional enemies overcoming their history. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-247576-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2019

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PIRATES DON'T TAKE BATHS

Echoes of Runaway Bunny color this exchange between a bath-averse piglet and his patient mother. Using a strategy that would probably be a nonstarter in real life, the mother deflects her stubborn offspring’s string of bath-free occupational conceits with appeals to reason: “Pirates NEVER EVER take baths!” “Pirates don’t get seasick either. But you do.” “Yeesh. I’m an astronaut, okay?” “Well, it is hard to bathe in zero gravity. It’s hard to poop and pee in zero gravity too!” And so on, until Mom’s enticing promise of treasure in the deep sea persuades her little Treasure Hunter to take a dive. Chunky figures surrounded by lots of bright white space in Segal’s minimally detailed watercolors keep the visuals as simple as the plotline. The language isn’t quite as basic, though, and as it rendered entirely in dialogue—Mother Pig’s lines are italicized—adult readers will have to work hard at their vocal characterizations for it to make any sense. Moreover, younger audiences (any audiences, come to that) may wonder what the piggy’s watery closing “EUREKA!!!” is all about too. Not particularly persuasive, but this might coax a few young porkers to get their trotters into the tub. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: March 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-399-25425-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: Jan. 26, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2011

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