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A silly, fun way to introduce vegetables.

A group of vegetables share silly expressions in this pun-heavy concept book for young readers.

Beginning with a disclaimer that all the characters are “100% organic,” Mommy Moo Moo’s picture book, filled with cartoonish versions of vegetables, includes a phrase on each page representing the drawn character. Some are familiar expressions, such as “Okey dokey, artichokey!” Others reference familiar pop-culture figures (the Beatles are depicted as pickled beets, with a reference to Sgt. Pippa as the lead singer) or old jokes (“Cantaloupe tonight” a melon says to a suitor). A head of lettuce leads a congregation of onions and leeks in prayer with the pun “Lettuce pray.” While some of the wordplay will go over the heads of the preschool and lap-reader audience, the alliterative or rhyming phrases are fun to repeat aloud. No genders are mentioned in the text, but many of Edwards’ illustrations are coded with stereotyped gender traits: High-heeled and lipstick-wearing vegetables have eyelashes while a mustachioed tomato and other vegetables do not. Perhaps less amusing is the image of a pumpkin with a tattoo that says Pie whistling at a high-heeled slice of pumpkin pie with a whipped-cream head. Still, the creative depictions of common veggies—a raw beet with pickled backup band, a spud with roots growing from its head in a punk hairstyle, or the especially clever illustration of carrots hiding from a rabbit by posing as a fence—will give readers a solid grin.

A silly, fun way to introduce vegetables.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2020


Page Count: 20

Publisher: Damara Publishing

Review Posted Online: Dec. 4, 2020

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Little Blue’s fans will enjoy the animal sounds and counting opportunities, but it’s the sparkling lights on the truck’s own...

The sturdy Little Blue Truck is back for his third adventure, this time delivering Christmas trees to his band of animal pals.

The truck is decked out for the season with a Christmas wreath that suggests a nose between headlights acting as eyeballs. Little Blue loads up with trees at Toad’s Trees, where five trees are marked with numbered tags. These five trees are counted and arithmetically manipulated in various ways throughout the rhyming story as they are dropped off one by one to Little Blue’s friends. The final tree is reserved for the truck’s own use at his garage home, where he is welcomed back by the tree salestoad in a neatly circular fashion. The last tree is already decorated, and Little Blue gets a surprise along with readers, as tiny lights embedded in the illustrations sparkle for a few seconds when the last page is turned. Though it’s a gimmick, it’s a pleasant surprise, and it fits with the retro atmosphere of the snowy country scenes. The short, rhyming text is accented with colored highlights, red for the animal sounds and bright green for the numerical words in the Christmas-tree countdown.

Little Blue’s fans will enjoy the animal sounds and counting opportunities, but it’s the sparkling lights on the truck’s own tree that will put a twinkle in a toddler’s eyes. (Picture book. 2-5)

Pub Date: Sept. 23, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-544-32041-3

Page Count: 24

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 11, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2014

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Innovative and thoroughly enjoyable.

You think you know shapes? Animals? Blend them together, and you might see them both a little differently!

What a mischievous twist on a concept book! With wordplay and a few groan-inducing puns, Neal creates connections among animals and shapes that are both unexpected and so seemingly obvious that readers might wonder why they didn’t see them all along. Of course, a “lazy turtle” meeting an oval would create the side-splitting combo of a “SLOW-VAL.” A dramatic page turn transforms a deeply saturated, clean-lined green oval by superimposing a head and turtle shell atop, with watery blue ripples completing the illusion. Minimal backgrounds and sketchy, impressionistic detailing keep the focus right on the zany animals. Beginning with simple shapes, the geometric forms become more complicated as the book advances, taking readers from a “soaring bird” that meets a triangle to become a “FLY-ANGLE” to a “sleepy lion” nonagon “YAWN-AGON.” Its companion text, Animal Colors, delves into color theory, this time creating entirely hybrid animals, such as the “GREEN WHION” with maned head and whale’s tail made from a “blue whale and a yellow lion.” It’s a compelling way to visualize color mixing, and like Animal Shapes, it’s got verve. Who doesn’t want to shout out that a yellow kangaroo/green moose blend is a “CHARTREUSE KANGAMOOSE”?

Innovative and thoroughly enjoyable. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: March 27, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4998-0534-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little Bee Books

Review Posted Online: May 13, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2018

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