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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This ambitious, interactive exploration of color will be of particular appeal to dog lovers.

COLOR DOG

A chunky board book about colors features photographs of dogs and incorporates many interactive elements.

Even the front cover of this title is interactive. Pull a large red tab, and a bulldog’s head moves back and forth as he chews on the shoelace of a red tennis shoe. Inside, further interactive features, rhyming text, and illustrations featuring cute pups and their adorable antics await. For example, the orange pages offer a collage of pumpkins, autumn foliage, puppies, and a cat, reading: “Orange the patch of pumpkins, / Orange the autumn leaves, / Orange the frumpy, napping cat… / that I chase up a tree.” One of the pumpkins is a flap that conceals the face of a precious pup, and another, larger flap hides a pop-up tree branch on which an orange kitty perches. Other pages incorporate some more noxious surprises, such as: “Green the swamp I love to swim in, / Green the summer grass, / Green the color of the air… / when my dog food gives me gas.” Pull the tab here to trigger a large green cloud that emanates from the back end of a suitably embarrassed-looking basset hound.

This ambitious, interactive exploration of color will be of particular appeal to dog lovers. (Board book. 2-5)

Pub Date: Aug. 25, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4814-4986-1

Page Count: 22

Publisher: Paula Wiseman/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Sept. 21, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2016

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