Pollard’s tide is like a poem. Beginning and ending each spread is a word repeated three times, often one that actually sounds like the actions described in the middle of that verse: “Scratch, scratch, scratch. The clam digger rakes the sand. Mussels and clams clattering, shattering into his bucket. Scratch, scratch, scratch.” Text lines dip and curve over the page, mirroring the waves, mirroring the clam digger’s feet trudging through the sand. “S” and “sh” sounds are used plentifully throughout, sounding wonderfully oceanic. Illustration strengths are the clam digger’s large yellow slicker and the flocks of various birds; seagulls and geese are joined by several other (unidentified) kinds, with as many as six species of bird per spread. However, an over-busy feeling pervades the pictures. Too many types of shape and line, along with harsh color combinations, deny the eye a place to rest or focus. Pixilated lines, used for water texture, are too jagged for the waves and foam they are supposed to depict; they evoke a technological world more than a watery one. But onomatopoeia such as “kronk, kronk, kronk” for geese honking and “stoop, stoop, stoop” for bicycle wheels in the sand combines with alliteration like “full of flapping fish,” and all these sounds build to an entrancing combination printed in undulating waves: “Chug. Trudge. Splash. Scratch. Kronk. Prod. Hush. Gush. Swoop. Stoop. Beam. Gleam.” Readers’ eyes may be confused but their ears will definitely be captured. (Picture book. 2-4)

Pub Date: May 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-7613-1536-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Roaring Brook

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2002

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This clumsily executed extended dance metaphor doesn’t make the cut.


Everybody can dance? Silly wordplay delivers a not-so-subtle message to value each person’s unique moves.

The brief story plays off the similar pronunciations of “flamingo” and “flamenco” but does not confine itself to that dance form, introducing seven different sorts of animal and an equal number of different dances. On the versos of the ensuing sequence of six double-page spreads, hippos dance hip-hop, wallabies waltz, tigers tap, a bear performs ballet, “camels can cancan in a long chorus line,” and sloths slow dance; a flamboyant flamingo on the right side of each spread outshines each with flamenco moves. Unfortunately, the book itself does not shine. A design decision to introduce the animals in a different order than originally shown is confusing, and the animals seem to have been chosen for their alliterative possibilities and improbable dance skills rather than for genuine animal characteristics. Toddlers unfamiliar with dance styles will not appreciate the flamingo’s contortions, much less the other animals’ moves, especially in their dance costumes. The rhyming text lacks rhythm; words and pictures don’t always match. For example, one bear is shown while the text reads “bears.” The ending, with the animals changing partners and the lines “We each have a dance, / so dance well your part. / Dance with all of your heart… / …even if it’s not the flamenco,” lands with something of a thud.

This clumsily executed extended dance metaphor doesn’t make the cut. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: March 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-64170-235-5

Page Count: 16

Publisher: Familius

Review Posted Online: June 3, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2020

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A sweet but not essential book.


From the Baby Unplugged series

A whole host of children presents a whole host of balls in this new installment in the Baby Unplugged series.

There are so many kinds of balls in this little board book. Big ball, shiny ball, game ball, plain ball, spot ball. And not all are necessarily balls. Some are round objects, like the snowball and the clay ball or the blueberry that is a “tiny ball.” Some balls are verb balls, like the “throw ball, / catch ball, / go ball, / fetch ball!” There is even a gotcha! ball that’s “not ball”—it’s a cube! And all these balls are being played with by an equally eclectic group of children. African-American, Asian, brown-skinned, and blond and brunette white children are all represented here in illustrations that are charming and clear but not particularly artful. It feels as though both author and illustrator are trying so hard to include so much that they’ve almost forgotten to have fun. It’s reminiscent of One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish but without the spark that turns an OK book into a timeless classic. Best suited for young children who are already quite verbal.

A sweet but not essential book. (Board book. 2-3)

Pub Date: April 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-936669-42-4

Page Count: 14

Publisher: blue manatee press

Review Posted Online: June 22, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2016

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