Wry wit, unusual choices, and pleasing images make this an enjoyable, all-ages ABC work.



This debut illustrated abecedarian book aims to make reading aloud fun for adults as well as children.

Among the plethora of ABC books on the market, many offerings make animals their focus, and some creatures show up time and time again. This is especially so for less frequently used letters; for example, Q is usually for "Quail," and Z is almost always for "Zebra." Though children love familiarity and the repetition of their favorites, the grown-ups who read to them may feel jaded by the same old, same old. To address this problem, author and illustrator Crowder speaks to both audiences in his book. Though he does sometimes use well-known examples, like “A is for Alligator,” he often provides some uncommon alternatives, as when readers are told that A also stands for “aardvark, airedale, and akita.” And when a usual suspect shows up—Q is indeed for "Quail"—the author makes the entry amusing, acknowledging that “there are only about six animals that begin with Q. This is one.” For each spread, the left-hand page displays its animal exemplar in the shape of the appropriate capital letter, as with the toucan, whose long, large beak makes the horizontal crosspiece of a T, its body forming the upright. Each right-hand page shows the letter again in regular typography, both uppercase and lowercase, which is a useful touch that not all ABC books include.

For each letter of the alphabet, Crowder supplies some intriguing animal observations peppered with emphatic exclamations. “S is for Salamander,” for example, features the comment that the creature “can regrow lost limbs, parts of its heart, and even parts of its brain…its brain!” It’s easy to imagine reading this aloud with gusto. Many entries include quirky, humorous asides with references that will go over the heads of most children but will be entertaining for adults. For example, readers are warned that the gecko isn’t “cuddly” and “can’t talk either, so don’t let those commercials fool you.” Similarly, under K (somewhat unsurprisingly, for "Kangaroo"), the author notes that “a group of kangaroos is called a mob. It’s not a flash mob. Calm down.” The images are attractively colored, shaded, and proportioned. It’s a plus that the animals aren’t anthropomorphized or cartoony but instead are depicted fairly realistically in ways that convey their particular characteristics. For example, the dolphin’s lines flow aquatically, the fennec fox tilts its head in curious inquiry, and the raccoon washes its hands. The final pages present illustrations for animals mentioned but not portrayed in the main text, such as C for "Coelacanth." A pronunciation guide is included, more useful for adults than for pre-readers, but no glossary. This could have come in handy for terms the book uses but doesn’t define, such as the differences between monkeys, apes, and lemurs—something adults could find challenging to explain to kids.

Wry wit, unusual choices, and pleasing images make this an enjoyable, all-ages ABC work.

Pub Date: April 7, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-09-331811-1

Page Count: 60

Publisher: Mascot Books

Review Posted Online: March 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2020

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


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 perfect story to enjoy on a “no bones day.”


Graziano tells the story of his TikTok-famous pug, Noodle.

Noodle is a silly, stubborn old pug who likes walks and snacks. “He’s a pug who knows what he wants.” Jonathan, his light-skinned owner, loves taking Noodle for walks and sharing snacks—they are a perfect pair. But one day, when it’s time for a walk, Noodle just lies in his dog bed. Even when Jonathan tries to make Noodle sit up, Noodle flops back down. “It’s like he doesn’t have bones!” says Jonathan. Noodle doesn’t seem sick—he just wants snacks and to stay in bed. Finally, Jonathan asks if Noodle would just like to snuggle instead and receives a strong affirmative from the drowsy pug. Together Noodle and his human enjoy a relaxing “no bones day” and learn an important lesson about rest and why it matters for silly, stubborn old pugs and for the humans who love them, too. Many may already be familiar with Noodle through his TikTok videos (if Noodle remains standing when Graziano lifts him, it’s a “bones day”; among Noodle’s followers, a “no bones day” has come to mean a day for self-care and taking it easy). However, this story stands alone and will likely create new fans for a long time to come. Hand-drawn and painted digitally, Tavis’ illustrations rely on a muted palette and rounded images, depicting an appropriately cozy world. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A perfect story to enjoy on a “no bones day.” (author's note) (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: June 7, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-66592-710-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: McElderry

Review Posted Online: May 11, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2022

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