Lighthearted fun with a warm, musical touch.

PUSSYCAT, PUSSYCAT

Colorful illustrations and simple nursery rhymes with an accompanying audio CD make up this picture book.

On each double-page spread of this portrait-format picture book, colorful type tells a simple nursery rhyme, and the subject of the rhyme is illustrated with ample white space surrounding it. As a stand-alone picture book, it’s a bit rote, even if van Hout’s carefree, doodlelike illustrations are chock-full of whimsy. But once the CD is popped in, each spread comes alive as the uncluttered mother-and-daughter vocals of the Chambers Family turn the nursery rhyme into a little song. With the exception of the first song, which is 2 1/2 minutes, the rest of the songs are under 1 minute—even when they are repeated twice (a perfect opportunity for readers to sing along the second time). Some of the nursery rhymes are familiar, such as “Baa, Baa, Black Sheep” and “The Itsy Bitsy Spider,” but many are likely to be new to readers—and the one about the centipede is delightfully silly. The last rhyme, about a baby bird under its mother’s wing, is an especially satisfying way to end the book, but unfortunately the centrally placed illustration (like several others) suffers from being bisected by the gutter. It’s not terrible, but it is visually distracting.

Lighthearted fun with a warm, musical touch. (Picture book/poetry. 2-6)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-935954-48-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Lemniscaat USA

Review Posted Online: July 22, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2015

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It’s a bit hard to dance, or count, to this beat.

ONE MORE DINO ON THE FLOOR

Dinos that love to move and groove get children counting from one to 10—and perhaps moving to the beat.

Beginning with a solo bop by a female dino (she has eyelashes, doncha know), the dinosaur dance party begins. Each turn of the page adds another dino and a change in the dance genre: waltz, country line dancing, disco, limbo, square dancing, hip-hop, and swing. As the party would be incomplete without the moonwalk, the T. Rex does the honors…and once they are beyond their initial panic at his appearance, the onlookers cheer wildly. The repeated refrain on each spread allows for audience participation, though it doesn’t easily trip off the tongue: “They hear a swish. / What’s this? / One more? / One more dino on the floor.” Some of the prehistoric beasts are easily identifiable—pterodactyl, ankylosaurus, triceratops—but others will be known only to the dino-obsessed; none are identified, other than T-Rex. Packed spreads filled with psychedelically colored dinos sporting blocks of color, stripes, or polka dots (and infectious looks of joy) make identification even more difficult, to say nothing of counting them. Indeed, this fails as a counting primer: there are extra animals (and sometimes a grumpy T-Rex) in the backgrounds, and the next dino to join the party pokes its head into the frame on the page before. Besides all that, most kids won’t get the dance references.

It’s a bit hard to dance, or count, to this beat. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: March 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-8075-1598-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Whitman

Review Posted Online: Jan. 20, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2016

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A memorable life—a forgettable presentation.

I AM JACKIE ROBINSON

From the Ordinary People Change the World series

Baseball’s No. 42 strikes out.

Even as a babe in his mother’s arms, Robinson is depicted wearing his Brooklyn Dodgers baseball cap in this latest entry in the Ordinary People Change the World series. He narrates his childhood alongside cartoon panels that show him as an expert runner and thrower. Racism and poverty are also part of his growing up, along with lessons in sharing and courage. Incredibly, the Negro Leagues are not mentioned beyond a passing reference to “a black team” with a picture of the Kansas City Monarchs next to their team bus (still looking like a child in the illustration, Robinson whines, “Gross! Is this food or goo?”). In 1946, Branch Rickey signs him to play for the Dodgers’ farm team, and the rest, as they say, is history. Robinson concludes his story with an exhortation to readers to be brave, strong and use their “power to do what’s right. / Use that power for a cause that you believe in.” Meltzer writes his inspirational biography as a first-person narrative, which risks being construed and used as an autobiography—which it is not. The digitally rendered cartoon illustrations that show Robinson as a perpetual child fall sadly short of capturing his demeanor and prowess.

A memorable life—a forgettable presentation. (photographs, timeline, sources, further reading) (Picture book/biography. 3-6)

Pub Date: Jan. 8, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8037-4086-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Oct. 15, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2014

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