From the Bright Owl Books series

It’s much better than a phonics worksheet, but it’s a shame these photos serve such dull storytelling.

“Kate and Nate bake a cake for Grandpa Jake.”

Kate and Nate are snails, three-dimensional characters crafted out of wool and adorned with real shells on their backs. When they see a fabric snake, they are very scared and try to evade him with one of the modes of transportation available—trains, planes, and boats. (Little do they know that he is Grandpa Jake’s “great mate.”) A real wooded area serves as backdrop; it almost seems as if the photos are movie stills, but the scenes have been specifically constructed for this volume, one of a growing series with one simple aim: to teach phonics by introducing one sound at a time. This volume introduces the long “a” with commonplace words like “place,” “plate,” “sail,” and “trail.” The pictures are intriguing and use many different kinds of materials and objects, including a real lit candle atop the cake, a toy wooden rolling pin, and a graceful toy boat with a beautiful sail with a very handsome snail design. Young readers will pore over the pages, perhaps trying to figure out how they might create such scenes. In the meantime, they will probably absorb the lesson and learn some decoding skills. Two story-starter ideas round out the volume. Four other titles publish simultaneously: Blues for Unicorn, Go Home, Goat, Greedy Beetle, and Lion Spies a Tiger.

It’s much better than a phonics worksheet, but it’s a shame these photos serve such dull storytelling. (Early reader. 4-6)

Pub Date: April 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-63592-097-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Kane Press

Review Posted Online: Dec. 21, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2019


Nothing new here but a nonetheless congenial matriculant in publishing’s autumnal rite of back-to-school offerings.

The Crayons head back to class in this latest series entry.

Daywalt’s expository text lays out the basics as various Crayons wave goodbye to the beach, choose a first-day outfit, greet old friends, and make new ones. As in previous outings, the perennially droll illustrations and hand-lettered Crayon-speak drive the humor. The ever wrapperless Peach, opining, “What am I going to wear?” surveys three options: top hat and tails, a chef’s toque and apron, and a Santa suit. New friends Chunky Toddler Crayon (who’s missing a bite-sized bit of their blue point) and Husky Toddler Crayon speculate excitedly on their common last name: “I wonder if we’re related!” White Crayon, all but disappearing against the page’s copious white space, sits cross-legged reading a copy of H.G. Wells’ The Invisible Man. And Yellow and Orange, notable for their previous existential argument about the color of the sun, find agreement in science class: Jupiter, clearly, is yellow AND orange. Everybody’s excited about art class—“Even if they make a mess. Actually…ESPECIALLY if they make a mess!” Here, a spread of crayoned doodles of butterflies, hearts, and stars is followed by one with fulsome scribbles. Fans of previous outings will spot cameos from Glow in the Dark and yellow-caped Esteban (the Crayon formerly known as Pea Green). (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Nothing new here but a nonetheless congenial matriculant in publishing’s autumnal rite of back-to-school offerings. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: May 16, 2023

ISBN: 9780593621110

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: Feb. 24, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2023


As ephemeral as a valentine.

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. 1, 2021

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