There’s not much new under the sun, or in the sea, but a bouncy rhythm—and full-on shouted conclusion—can’t be beat.

READ REVIEW

ME AND ANNIE MCPHEE

Two curious monkeys think they are alone on an island in the middle of the sea.

The narrating monkey stares through a pair of binoculars and begins the repeating refrain: “In the middle of the sea, / as far as the eye could see, / there was nothing to see / but sea.” Quite full for a deserted spot, the tiny island the monkeys are stranded on has a volcano, a cave, boulders, and three coconut trees. With each page turn, however, animals start to emerge from the crevasses, so the narrator needs to adjust the ever expanding, cumulative verse. Suddenly there are also “two wee dogs who thought they were frogs” and “three perky pigs all wearing wigs.” From one to 10, more and more animals come, painted with exuberant anthropomorphism by Hillenbrand (the punk-tressed pigs in grass skirts are a special treat). He plants cues in his mottled, digital spreads to help observant readers predict what creature may come next. Annie McPhee (the narrator’s original monkey pal) grows increasingly worried as the crowd expands. By the time “ten rascally rats skipping in hats” come prancing by, poor Annie McPhee has had enough. A certain spout on the cover (and dedication page) hints at the monkeys’ escape plan.

There’s not much new under the sun, or in the sea, but a bouncy rhythm—and full-on shouted conclusion—can’t be beat. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: June 14, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-399-16808-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: March 16, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2016

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A sweet reminder that it’s easy to weather a storm with the company and kindness of friends.

GOOD NIGHT, LITTLE BLUE TRUCK

Is it a stormy-night scare or a bedtime book? Both!

Little Blue Truck and his good friend Toad are heading home when a storm lets loose. Before long, their familiar, now very nervous barnyard friends (Goat, Hen, Goose, Cow, Duck, and Pig) squeeze into the garage. Blue explains that “clouds bump and tumble in the sky, / but here inside we’re warm and dry, / and all the thirsty plants below / will get a drink to help them grow!” The friends begin to relax. “Duck said, loud as he could quack it, / ‘THUNDER’S JUST A NOISY RACKET!’ ” In the quiet after the storm, the barnyard friends are sleepy, but the garage is not their home. “ ‘Beep!’ said Blue. ‘Just hop inside. / All aboard for the bedtime ride!’ ” Young readers will settle down for their own bedtimes as Blue and Toad drop each friend at home and bid them a good night before returning to the garage and their own beds. “Blue gave one small sleepy ‘Beep.’ / Then Little Blue Truck fell fast asleep.” Joseph’s rich nighttime-blue illustrations (done “in the style of [series co-creator] Jill McElmurry”) highlight the power of the storm and capture the still serenity that follows. Little Blue Truck has been chugging along since 2008, but there seems to be plenty of gas left in the tank.

A sweet reminder that it’s easy to weather a storm with the company and kindness of friends. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Oct. 22, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-328-85213-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: June 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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Plotless and pointless, the book clearly exists only because its celebrity author wrote it.

YOUR BABY'S FIRST WORD WILL BE DADA

A succession of animal dads do their best to teach their young to say “Dada” in this picture-book vehicle for Fallon.

A grumpy bull says, “DADA!”; his calf moos back. A sad-looking ram insists, “DADA!”; his lamb baas back. A duck, a bee, a dog, a rabbit, a cat, a mouse, a donkey, a pig, a frog, a rooster, and a horse all fail similarly, spread by spread. A final two-spread sequence finds all of the animals arrayed across the pages, dads on the verso and children on the recto. All the text prior to this point has been either iterations of “Dada” or animal sounds in dialogue bubbles; here, narrative text states, “Now everybody get in line, let’s say it together one more time….” Upon the turn of the page, the animal dads gaze round-eyed as their young across the gutter all cry, “DADA!” (except the duckling, who says, “quack”). Ordóñez's illustrations have a bland, digital look, compositions hardly varying with the characters, although the pastel-colored backgrounds change. The punch line fails from a design standpoint, as the sudden, single-bubble chorus of “DADA” appears to be emanating from background features rather than the baby animals’ mouths (only some of which, on close inspection, appear to be open). It also fails to be funny.

Plotless and pointless, the book clearly exists only because its celebrity author wrote it. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: June 9, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-250-00934-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Review Posted Online: April 15, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2015

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