Quantity alone qualifies this as compulsive and repeated reading, but there’s a delightfully mirthful creativity at work as...

JUST IMAGINE

Close your eyes and dream yourself into whatever you’d like to be!

A possibly Asian boy, a Caucasian girl and a bright white mouse challenge readers on the title page: “Take a look inside this book, and decide what you’d like to be.” Each two-page spread is a riot of bright pictures triggered by a single suggestion. “Can you imagine being BIG?” shows the boy towering over an airplane and making a big swimming pool look like a bathtub, while the girl blows on the lava coming out of a volcano and holds an elephant like it’s a stuffed toy. “Would you like to travel through time?” takes them—and readers—to the 1960s, the time of the Vikings, ancient Egypt and many other elsewheres. “Imagine being an animal, living in the wild” offers a total of 50 options, each in a square portrait. “Imagine flying in the sky, or living in the sea” horizontally divides the two pages, each half ridiculously crowded (in the sky: dirigible, fairy, superhero, helicopter, winged pig and more; in the sea: Neptune, manatee, tortoise, treasure, mermaid, etc.). Even the inside cover is loaded with suggestions, in the form of gerunds: “growing, flying, sleeping, sneezing...” all the way to “dreaming”—nearly 150 in all.

Quantity alone qualifies this as compulsive and repeated reading, but there’s a delightfully mirthful creativity at work as well. Good fun for a broad range of ages. (Picture book. 3-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2014

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Kane Miller

Review Posted Online: July 29, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2014

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Safe to creep on by.

LOVE FROM THE VERY HUNGRY CATERPILLAR

Carle’s famous caterpillar expresses its love.

In three sentences that stretch out over most of the book’s 32 pages, the (here, at least) not-so-ravenous larva first describes the object of its love, then describes how that loved one makes it feel before concluding, “That’s why… / I[heart]U.” There is little original in either visual or textual content, much of it mined from The Very Hungry Caterpillar. “You are… / …so sweet,” proclaims the caterpillar as it crawls through the hole it’s munched in a strawberry; “…the cherry on my cake,” it says as it perches on the familiar square of chocolate cake; “…the apple of my eye,” it announces as it emerges from an apple. Images familiar from other works join the smiling sun that shone down on the caterpillar as it delivers assurances that “you make… / …the sun shine brighter / …the stars sparkle,” and so on. The book is small, only 7 inches high and 5 ¾ inches across when closed—probably not coincidentally about the size of a greeting card. While generations of children have grown up with the ravenous caterpillar, this collection of Carle imagery and platitudinous sentiment has little of his classic’s charm. The melding of Carle’s caterpillar with Robert Indiana’s iconic LOVE on the book’s cover, alas, draws further attention to its derivative nature.

Safe to creep on by. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Dec. 15, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-448-48932-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: Feb. 2, 2021

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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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