THE LITTLE RED CAT WHO RAN AWAY AND LEARNED HIS ABC'S (THE HARD WAY)

Give this book an F, yes, an F: for fun and funny

This (mostly) wordless book opens with the titular little red cat running out of his house toward an alligator with open jaws, and a chase begins.

Here and on each page with a distinct, new alphabetical element that follows are printed only the upper- and lowercase initials of the relevant word: “Aa.” A bear follows the alligator, followed by a chicken, then a dragon, and an egg, which issues from the startled chicken upon espying the dragon. Cat, alligator, bear, chicken, and egg (which has tiny, pipestem legs) all put on (sun)glasses to avoid the glare of the dragon’s fire, ice skate across a frozen pond, swing on vines through a jungle, and so on. Befitting the quirky visual narrative, the letters are a surprising mix: L is for a “lost” poster with the cat’s picture on it, R is for a restroom, T is for tired, and W for wave, as the characters bid one another adieu. There’s humor in small details and large, as in the double-page spread in which the characters plummet off a cliff and the text screams: “Nnnnnnnn Oooooooo!” Thank goodness they deploy parachutes in the following spread, which requires readers to turn the book 90 degrees for its full effect. McDonnell’s drawings use simple lines to generate action, and the background is a white expanse that keeps the focus on the colored line figures. A legend in the back identifies the specific words referenced by the letters.

Give this book an F, yes, an F: for fun and funny . (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-316-50246-7

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: May 9, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2017

LOVE FROM THE CRAYONS

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

ON THE FIRST DAY OF KINDERGARTEN

While this is a fairly bland treatment compared to Deborah Lee Rose and Carey Armstrong-Ellis’ The Twelve Days of...

Rabe follows a young girl through her first 12 days of kindergarten in this book based on the familiar Christmas carol.

The typical firsts of school are here: riding the bus, making friends, sliding on the playground slide, counting, sorting shapes, laughing at lunch, painting, singing, reading, running, jumping rope, and going on a field trip. While the days are given ordinal numbers, the song skips the cardinal numbers in the verses, and the rhythm is sometimes off: “On the second day of kindergarten / I thought it was so cool / making lots of friends / and riding the bus to my school!” The narrator is a white brunette who wears either a tunic or a dress each day, making her pretty easy to differentiate from her classmates, a nice mix in terms of race; two students even sport glasses. The children in the ink, paint, and collage digital spreads show a variety of emotions, but most are happy to be at school, and the surroundings will be familiar to those who have made an orientation visit to their own schools.

While this is a fairly bland treatment compared to Deborah Lee Rose and Carey Armstrong-Ellis’ The Twelve Days of Kindergarten (2003), it basically gets the job done. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: June 21, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-06-234834-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 3, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2016

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