A likable ode to the perennial pleasures of autumn and friends.

FALL BALL

McCarty distills a crisp essence of late fall into a few familiar images: a bouncy ride home on the school bus, an impromptu game of football (the American kind) amid piles of leaves, the first flakes of snow in early dusk and the cozy warmth of the house after play.

A slightly diverse group of pink-cheeked and well-scrubbed primary-grade children (two girls and eight boys, including Bobby with his football and Jimmy, whose attempt at creating a tidy pile of leaves is certain to be thwarted) looks sweetly like an array of young hedgehogs. They have spiky hair and round bodies and are so kinetic that they seem to move in a tumble above the ground. Textured lines and muted colors in the children’s clothes and the flying leaves combine with the substantial creamy paper to make each lighthearted spread sweetly inviting, so tactile and alive that one can almost imagine the smell of autumn leaves in the air. The spare text, perfectly pitched for a preschool audience, offers just enough to support the illustrations and for pre-readers to revisit and retell the story. Even listeners without Bobby’s passion for football will find the afternoon’s outdoor recreation appealing, and adult readers may remember the delights of independent, child-organized group play.

A likable ode to the perennial pleasures of autumn and friends. (Picture book. 2-5)

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-8050-9253-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Oct. 2, 2013

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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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There is always room in the Easter basket for a counting book, and many readers may appreciate having another simple,...

TEN EASTER EGGS

A cheerful brown bunny hiding behind the edges of an Easter basket looks just as surprised as young children will be to find the chicks revealed as each egg “hatches.”

With help from a reading partner, young children are encouraged to count down the eggs as they disappear with each page turn. Alternatively, they can count up as the chicks are revealed. A simple phrase at the top of each right-hand page states the number of eggs in the basket. The line at the bottom (half of a rhyming couplet) tells how many chicks readers should look for. The numbers are spelled out, requiring young children to recognize the word instead of the more familiar numeral. On the left-hand page, the spaces previously occupied by an egg begin to fill with meadow plants and critters, eventually becoming a scene as busy and cheerful as a greeting card. This book begs to be touched. Each egg is made of shaped plastic that protrudes through die-cut holes on the verso; they can be pressed but seem to be securely anchored. The pastel chicks are lightly flocked, providing an additional tactile experience. Although the pages are thicker than paper, young fingers may find the holes a convenient way to grip (and possibly tear) the pages.

There is always room in the Easter basket for a counting book, and many readers may appreciate having another simple, nonreligious holiday book. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: Jan. 27, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-545-74730-1

Page Count: 22

Publisher: Cartwheel/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Nov. 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2015

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