Ultimately, the book presents concepts that are too mature for its apparent age group to grasp without guidance.

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WHICH IS ROUND? WHICH IS BIGGER?

Playful or confusing? The illustrations by Japanese designer Mamada in this comparisons book are charmingly naïve, but their conceptual twists tend to beg more questions than they answer.

The premise is that nothing is as it appears. An apple is round until it is half-eaten; a pangolin, while not normally round like an apple, becomes round when it curls into a ball. A duck is bigger than a small peacock—until the peacock is in full display mode. The cat is higher up the tree than the mouse—until the tree bends and the cat is lower. This could lead to an interesting discussion with a 3-year-old—or could cause endless confusion, especially since some of the concepts are not really accurate. A snake is still longer than an ant, even when many ants form a long line. In one spread, “Which one is faster,” a dog beats the snail walking up the hill, but the snail rolls down the hill faster than the dog can walk. The response might challenge the reasoning abilities of even the smartest 2- to 4-year-olds and lead to a sense of dissatisfaction. Used in an elementary classroom, however, it could prompt fruitful discussion.

Ultimately, the book presents concepts that are too mature for its apparent age group to grasp without guidance. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: March 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-55453-973-4

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Kids Can

Review Posted Online: Jan. 16, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2013

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Laugh-out-loud fun for all.

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NANETTE'S BAGUETTE

Hilarious complications ensue when Nanette’s mom gives her the responsibility of buying the family baguette.

She sets out on her errand and encounters lots of distractions along the way as she meets and greets Georgette, Suzette, Bret with his clarinet, Mr. Barnett and his pet, Antoinette. But she remembers her mission and buys the baguette from Juliette the baker. And oh, it is a wonderful large, warm, aromatic hunk of bread, so Nanette takes a taste and another and more—until there is nothing left. Maybe she needs to take a jet to Tibet. But she faces her mother and finds understanding, tenderness, and a surprise twist. Willems is at his outlandish best with line after line of “ettes” and their absurd rhymes, all the while demonstrating a deep knowledge of children’s thought processes. Nanette and the entire cast of characters are bright green frogs with very large round eyes, heavily outlined in black and clad in eccentric clothing and hats. A highly detailed village constructed of cardboard forms the background for Nanette’s adventures. Her every emotion explodes all over the pages in wildly expressive, colorful vignettes and an eye-popping use of emphatic display type. The endpapers follow the fate of the baguette from fresh and whole to chewed and gone. Demands for encores will surely follow.

Laugh-out-loud fun for all. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Oct. 25, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4847-2286-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Aug. 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2016

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A welcome addition to autumnal storytelling—and to tales of traditional enemies overcoming their history.

THE SCARECROW

Ferry and the Fans portray a popular seasonal character’s unlikely friendship.

Initially, the protagonist is shown in his solitary world: “Scarecrow stands alone and scares / the fox and deer, / the mice and crows. / It’s all he does. It’s all he knows.” His presence is effective; the animals stay outside the fenced-in fields, but the omniscient narrator laments the character’s lack of friends or places to go. Everything changes when a baby crow falls nearby. Breaking his pole so he can bend, the scarecrow picks it up, placing the creature in the bib of his overalls while singing a lullaby. Both abandon natural tendencies until the crow learns to fly—and thus departs. The aabb rhyme scheme flows reasonably well, propelling the narrative through fall, winter, and spring, when the mature crow returns with a mate to build a nest in the overalls bib that once was his home. The Fan brothers capture the emotional tenor of the seasons and the main character in their panoramic pencil, ballpoint, and digital compositions. Particularly poignant is the close-up of the scarecrow’s burlap face, his stitched mouth and leaf-rimmed head conveying such sadness after his companion goes. Some adults may wonder why the scarecrow seems to have only partial agency, but children will be tuned into the problem, gratified by the resolution.

A welcome addition to autumnal storytelling—and to tales of traditional enemies overcoming their history. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-247576-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2019

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