Reading this book might not be for nothing…but it begs the question: is nothing really something? And more importantly, is...

THE BOOK ABOUT NOTHING

Here’s a book that takes nothing seriously.

The opening pages explicitly list all the things that it is not about: rainbows, socks, meatballs, doctors, tacos, princesses, and underpants are on that list. Instead, it sets out to explore the concept of nothing. The narrator is depicted as a dodo wearing a monocle, and its tone is that of an adult talking to a small child. Almost all the pages have something child readers and adult caregivers can relate to, from picking up toys (“there will be nothing on the floor”) and finishing meals (“there will be nothing left”) to noises in the dark (don’t worry—it’s nothing!). Bender (Awkward Family Photos, 2010) and Murphy’s (T-Rex Trying, 2014) picture book elicits a chuckle, and the predominantly black and white images with bold splashes of color are at times endearing. Line-drawn cartoon animals, fairly realistically rendered save for the anthropomorphic props, pose in appropriately negative space, occasional details (the dodo’s yellow bill and feet, an anteater’s red-and-white–checked neckerchief, a crocodile’s purple pajamas) picked out in bright, matte color. However, although it constantly and positively reframes nothing as something, the picture book leaves readers wondering whether “nothing” can always ethically be equated to a thing of value.

Reading this book might not be for nothing…but it begs the question: is nothing really something? And more importantly, is (doing/being/saying) nothing always OK? (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Feb. 13, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-399-55109-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Oct. 16, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2017

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Plotless and pointless, the book clearly exists only because its celebrity author wrote it.

YOUR BABY'S FIRST WORD WILL BE DADA

A succession of animal dads do their best to teach their young to say “Dada” in this picture-book vehicle for Fallon.

A grumpy bull says, “DADA!”; his calf moos back. A sad-looking ram insists, “DADA!”; his lamb baas back. A duck, a bee, a dog, a rabbit, a cat, a mouse, a donkey, a pig, a frog, a rooster, and a horse all fail similarly, spread by spread. A final two-spread sequence finds all of the animals arrayed across the pages, dads on the verso and children on the recto. All the text prior to this point has been either iterations of “Dada” or animal sounds in dialogue bubbles; here, narrative text states, “Now everybody get in line, let’s say it together one more time….” Upon the turn of the page, the animal dads gaze round-eyed as their young across the gutter all cry, “DADA!” (except the duckling, who says, “quack”). Ordóñez's illustrations have a bland, digital look, compositions hardly varying with the characters, although the pastel-colored backgrounds change. The punch line fails from a design standpoint, as the sudden, single-bubble chorus of “DADA” appears to be emanating from background features rather than the baby animals’ mouths (only some of which, on close inspection, appear to be open). It also fails to be funny.

Plotless and pointless, the book clearly exists only because its celebrity author wrote it. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: June 9, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-250-00934-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Review Posted Online: April 15, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2015

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A sweet reminder that it’s easy to weather a storm with the company and kindness of friends.

GOOD NIGHT, LITTLE BLUE TRUCK

Is it a stormy-night scare or a bedtime book? Both!

Little Blue Truck and his good friend Toad are heading home when a storm lets loose. Before long, their familiar, now very nervous barnyard friends (Goat, Hen, Goose, Cow, Duck, and Pig) squeeze into the garage. Blue explains that “clouds bump and tumble in the sky, / but here inside we’re warm and dry, / and all the thirsty plants below / will get a drink to help them grow!” The friends begin to relax. “Duck said, loud as he could quack it, / ‘THUNDER’S JUST A NOISY RACKET!’ ” In the quiet after the storm, the barnyard friends are sleepy, but the garage is not their home. “ ‘Beep!’ said Blue. ‘Just hop inside. / All aboard for the bedtime ride!’ ” Young readers will settle down for their own bedtimes as Blue and Toad drop each friend at home and bid them a good night before returning to the garage and their own beds. “Blue gave one small sleepy ‘Beep.’ / Then Little Blue Truck fell fast asleep.” Joseph’s rich nighttime-blue illustrations (done “in the style of [series co-creator] Jill McElmurry”) highlight the power of the storm and capture the still serenity that follows. Little Blue Truck has been chugging along since 2008, but there seems to be plenty of gas left in the tank.

A sweet reminder that it’s easy to weather a storm with the company and kindness of friends. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Oct. 22, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-328-85213-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: June 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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