Little listeners may need to be persuaded, but adults can be pleased with the solution.

I GOT YOU A PRESENT!

The perfect birthday present is not easy for this duck to find, but it is certainly a good one.

A cheerful group of animal friends adorned with party hats and led by an exuberant duck are all ready to celebrate a birthday. The cake is sliced, the balloons are in place, and the presents are piled up. Only duck does not have one in hand. As told by the duck, it was to be the very best, “the greatest present ever.” This is, unfortunately, not an easy assignment. Knitting socks is too difficult, carrying a really big ice cream cone is too awkward, composing music too challenging, and performing magical tricks too daunting—the whole package disappeared. Children can’t drive race cars, the dinosaurs are gone, and the Martians needed the rocket ship to get back home. Though endlessly inventive, this duck keeps coming up empty. Then the duck finally finds inspiration with a gift that should bring a smile to book lovers everywhere. Hopefully, the message will resonate with toy-, doll-, and gadget-focused gift givers and receivers. The colorfully busy and page-filling illustrations were created in Photoshop with “cake icing and gorilla vanilla ice cream.”

Little listeners may need to be persuaded, but adults can be pleased with the solution. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: April 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5253-0009-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Kids Can

Review Posted Online: Jan. 12, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

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As ephemeral as a valentine.

LOVE FROM THE CRAYONS

Daywalt and Jeffers’ wandering crayons explore love.

Each double-page spread offers readers a vision of one of the anthropomorphic crayons on the left along with the statement “Love is [color].” The word love is represented by a small heart in the appropriate color. Opposite, childlike crayon drawings explain how that color represents love. So, readers learn, “love is green. / Because love is helpful.” The accompanying crayon drawing depicts two alligators, one holding a recycling bin and the other tossing a plastic cup into it, offering readers two ways of understanding green. Some statements are thought-provoking: “Love is white. / Because sometimes love is hard to see,” reaches beyond the immediate image of a cat’s yellow eyes, pink nose, and black mouth and whiskers, its white face and body indistinguishable from the paper it’s drawn on, to prompt real questions. “Love is brown. / Because sometimes love stinks,” on the other hand, depicted by a brown bear standing next to a brown, squiggly turd, may provoke giggles but is fundamentally a cheap laugh. Some of the color assignments have a distinctly arbitrary feel: Why is purple associated with the imagination and pink with silliness? Fans of The Day the Crayons Quit (2013) hoping for more clever, metaliterary fun will be disappointed by this rather syrupy read.

As ephemeral as a valentine. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Dec. 24, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5247-9268-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Penguin Workshop

Review Posted Online: Feb. 2, 2021

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ALWAYS MORE LOVE

An interactive book works to get its titular message across to readers.

The narrator, an anthropomorphic cartoon heart with big eyes and stick arms and legs, is nothing if not exuberant in its attempts, clumsy and cloying as they may be. “I love you so much, / but there’s more in my heart. / How is that possible? / Well, where do I start? // Now move in close, and you will see / just how much you mean to me. // My love is huge—below, above. / As you can tell, there’s always more love!” The page following the instruction to move in shows a close-up of the top of the heart and its eyes, one stick arm pointing skyward, though despite the admonition “you can tell,” readers will glean nothing about love from this picture. À la Hervé Tullet, the book prompts readers to act, but the instructions can sometimes be confusing (see above) and are largely irrelevant to the following spread, supposedly triggered by the suggested actions. The heart, suddenly supplied with a painter’s palette and a beret and surrounded by blobs of color, instructs readers to “Shake the book to see what I can be.” The page turn reveals hearts of all different colors, one rainbow-striped, and then different shapes. Most troublingly, the heart, who is clearly meant to be a stand-in for loved ones, states, “I’m always here for you,” which for too many children is heartbreakingly not true.

Skip. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-7282-1376-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

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