No need to wait with bated breath.

CATCH MY BREATH

From the Walt Disney Animation Studios Artist Showcase series

Briggs delivers the fourth title in the Walt Disney Animation Studios Artist Showcase series, a musing on familiar turns of phrase.

When the narrator’s mother prompts the child to “catch your breath,” the child pauses to wonder “Where would it go?!” Narrated by a child entirely washed in yellow with straight, cropped hair, a hoodie, and pants, the book wastes no time in employing “fun sayings about breath.” These are by turns endearing (“Mom says Grandpa grumbles under his breath…. / Maybe my breath is there?”) and groan-inducing (“Oh no!— / I can’t hold my / breath underwater!” the child exclaims as the breath literally eludes outstretched fingers). Personified as a floppy, smiling red-pink entity with the consistency of a semi-inflated balloon, the breath enjoys the chase. Some jokes will require explaining: “I’ve heard I can buy babies’ breath at a nursery,” says the child to a doctor in a maternity unit. A muted palette and the sparing use of color work to softly highlight characters and dialogue (conveyed in speech bubbles). Loosely drawn black-and-white backgrounds, as well as small details such as secondary characters’ mid-20th-century-yet-undated attire, create a nostalgia that is unsurprising for Disney. However, this nostalgia combined with jokes that rely on a young child’s naiveté about wordplay may leave readers wondering who this book is really meant for.

No need to wait with bated breath. (author’s note) (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 19, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4847-2837-6

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Aug. 21, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 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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PIRATES DON'T TAKE BATHS

Echoes of Runaway Bunny color this exchange between a bath-averse piglet and his patient mother. Using a strategy that would probably be a nonstarter in real life, the mother deflects her stubborn offspring’s string of bath-free occupational conceits with appeals to reason: “Pirates NEVER EVER take baths!” “Pirates don’t get seasick either. But you do.” “Yeesh. I’m an astronaut, okay?” “Well, it is hard to bathe in zero gravity. It’s hard to poop and pee in zero gravity too!” And so on, until Mom’s enticing promise of treasure in the deep sea persuades her little Treasure Hunter to take a dive. Chunky figures surrounded by lots of bright white space in Segal’s minimally detailed watercolors keep the visuals as simple as the plotline. The language isn’t quite as basic, though, and as it rendered entirely in dialogue—Mother Pig’s lines are italicized—adult readers will have to work hard at their vocal characterizations for it to make any sense. Moreover, younger audiences (any audiences, come to that) may wonder what the piggy’s watery closing “EUREKA!!!” is all about too. Not particularly persuasive, but this might coax a few young porkers to get their trotters into the tub. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: March 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-399-25425-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: Jan. 26, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2011

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