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Stylish and high-concept but ultimately uneven.

Stylized graphic depictions of rainbow-inspired objects and ideas from A to Z.

No one can accuse this abecedary of being staid! Applying massively saturated colors and playing with bold concepts, graphic designer Arndt takes plenty of artistic risks in his alphabetical choices. Some, like a gloriously checkered hot air Balloon soaring through the sky or flashy rainbow Sprinkles raining decadently onto a cupcake, work magnificently. Others, such as a funky character sporting a Mohawk or splotchy Ink blots may not be familiar enough to young readers to be meaningful. Some, like Aura or Disco, veer toward downright befuddling. His graphic stylings are vivid and eye-catching, with tight edges, zero shading, and lots of high contrast, but like his choice of objects, the illustrations can be hit or miss. A string of Lights have just enough shine around them to make them seem to glow, and an Oz page complete with rainbow and yellow brick road is eminently charming, but a Queen composed primarily of circles is oddly hard to visually read, as is a Cubist-inspired Unicorn. Ending with a rainbow- hued Zebra along with a question mark is mildly funny, but the joke probably misses the mark for the intended audience. Several pages have added holographic paper for extra pizzazz, especially on a glittery Wand.

Stylish and high-concept but ultimately uneven. (Board book. 1-3)

Pub Date: June 1, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5248-6722-5

Page Count: 28

Publisher: Andrews McMeel Publishing

Review Posted Online: March 22, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2021

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Don’t judge this book by its cover; there’s an unusual concept and whimsical illustrations hiding underneath

A series of solid shapes substitute for natural objects in this board book that is somewhere between concept book and riddle game.

What’s that shape supposed to be? Running across a rust-brown labeled triangle, amid trees and elk, the text “Climb a TRIANGLE to the top” suggests the shape is a mountain; in an ocean scene with a red “STAR washed in on the waves,” the shape implies a sea star. Ample visual cues give young readers enough context to guess what the shape evokes, with some unexpected touches, such as “HEXAGON” printed on hexagonal honeycombs buzzing with bees and surrounded by golden flowers. Short, commanding sentences keep things humming, but with only six shapes covered, the book feels all too brief. Illustrator Devernay combines delicate pencil line drawings and sketchy gray-black shading with tiny, meticulously cut colored-paper collage to create her plants and animals. The most intimate drawings amaze. Close-ups of smooth stones are so appealing that readers will long to pick one up and “rub a smooth OVAL between thumb and finger.” Sadly, the cover doesn’t do the interior justice, and things get murky when several hues mix there and on the final spread. But on other spreads, where there’s a single color, it pops against the gray, such as the minute yellow beaks on the flock of charcoal birds circling the yellow “CIRCLE” sun.

Don’t judge this book by its cover; there’s an unusual concept and whimsical illustrations hiding underneath . (Board book. 1-3)

Pub Date: March 13, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-56846-317-9

Page Count: 14

Publisher: Creative Editions/Creative Company

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2018

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Useful for toddling birders in need of board books about colors.

Gorgeous birds amid foliage of similar hues introduce eight basic colors.

The two birds presented on each spread not only are of similar coloration, but also live in the same North American habitat. A scarlet tanager and a cardinal, both male, perch in a red maple tree; a male Eastern bluebird and a blue jay appear with morning glories and blueberries. The name of each color is printed in large font, while the name of each bird is in a much smaller one. Whether the bird shown is male or female, or if the male and female have similar coloring, is also indicated. The names of the trees they perch upon are identified in a note on the back cover. These details will be lost on most toddlers, but caregivers will appreciate being able to answer questions knowledgeably. Colors featured are from the standard box of crayons, except that pink is substituted for purple. Black and white share a spread. The cover image, of a cardinal, goldfinch, and bluebird in a birdbath, is not nearly as inviting as the images within. The final spread shows children (one white, one black, one Asian) assembling a puzzle that includes the same birds. This may serve as a reprise but will probably be skipped over. Bird-loving readers will probably feel that the space could have been put to better use by giving white birds their own page or adding a purple martin.

Useful for toddling birders in need of board books about colors. (Board book. 1-3)

Pub Date: May 2, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-58089-742-6

Page Count: 18

Publisher: Charlesbridge

Review Posted Online: April 16, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2017

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