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

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

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 10, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2017

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As ephemeral as a valentine.

LOVE FROM THE CRAYONS

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. 2, 2021

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This warm family story is a splendid showcase for the combined talents of Medina, a Pura Belpré award winner, and Dominguez,...

MANGO, ABUELA, AND ME

Abuela is coming to stay with Mia and her parents. But how will they communicate if Mia speaks little Spanish and Abuela, little English? Could it be that a parrot named Mango is the solution?

The measured, evocative text describes how Mia’s español is not good enough to tell Abuela the things a grandmother should know. And Abuela’s English is too poquito to tell Mia all the stories a granddaughter wants to hear. Mia sets out to teach her Abuela English. A red feather Abuela has brought with her to remind her of a wild parrot that roosted in her mango trees back home gives Mia an idea. She and her mother buy a parrot they name Mango. And as Abuela and Mia teach Mango, and each other, to speak both Spanish and English, their “mouths [fill] with things to say.” The accompanying illustrations are charmingly executed in ink, gouache, and marker, “with a sprinkling of digital magic.” They depict a cheery urban neighborhood and a comfortable, small apartment. Readers from multigenerational immigrant families will recognize the all-too-familiar language barrier. They will also cheer for the warm and loving relationship between Abuela and Mia, which is evident in both text and illustrations even as the characters struggle to understand each other. A Spanish-language edition, Mango, Abuela, y yo, gracefully translated by Teresa Mlawer, publishes simultaneously.

This warm family story is a splendid showcase for the combined talents of Medina, a Pura Belpré award winner, and Dominguez, an honoree. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 25, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-7636-6900-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: April 15, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2015

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