A fine additional to the counting-book shelf.

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COUNTING CHICKENS

Tobi’s patience is rewarded in this picture book set in an African village.

Part concept book, part story, it introduces Tobi and his hen, who lays an egg each day of the week. Meanwhile, Tobi’s friends, who “all had their own animals,” revel in the fecundity of their respective pets: “On Monday, Ade’s cow had a calf…. / On Tuesday, Tunde’s sheep had two lambs…. / On Wednesday, Bisi’s goat had three kids,” and so on. When Sunday arrives, Tobi’s hen has a clutch of seven eggs, and the accompanying art shows him waiting alongside the hen as she sits in the upturned hat that serves as her nest. Another week passes, and all of the baby animals cavort about the village, while Tobi and his hen continue their vigil. Finally, “after twenty-one days, Tobi was waiting no more.” The eggs hatch, and there are seven yellow chicks to count. The turn of the page reveals that those chicks grow to be hens that lay eggs of their own, and the final line invites readers to count all of the original hen’s progeny hidden within the picture (a helpful note on closing endpapers reveals the sum). Throughout, Alakija’s colorful art, rendered in acrylics and pencil, presents a village that integrates rustic, traditional elements alongside contemporary details such as cellphones, flip-flops, cars and baseball caps. The setting is presumably the author’s native Nigeria, but it’s too bad this information is not provided in the book.

A fine additional to the counting-book shelf. (Picture book. 2-5)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-84780-437-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Frances Lincoln

Review Posted Online: Aug. 27, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2014

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It’s sweet, but it thematically (and eponymously) replicates Dan Pinto and Benn Sutton’s Hedgehug (2011)—with much less verve

HEDGEHUGS

How do you hug if you’re a hedgehog?

Horace and Hattie are best friends who like to spend time together making daisy chains, splashing in puddles, and having tea parties. But they are OK doing things on their own, too: Hattie dances in the bluebells, while Horace searches the woods for spiders. But no matter what they do, together or apart, there’s one thing that they’ve found impossible: hugging. Each season, they try something new that will enable them to cushion their spines and snuggle up. Snow hugs are too cold, hollow-log hugs are too bumpy, strawberry hugs are too sticky, and autumn-leaf hugs are too scratchy. But a chance encounter with some laundry drying on a line may hold the answer to their problem—as well as to the universal mystery of lost socks. Tapper’s illustrations are a mix of what appears to be digital elements and photographed textures from scraps of baby clothes. While the latter provide pleasing textures, the hedgehogs are rendered digitally. Though cute, they are rather stiff and, well, spiky. Also, the typeface choice unfortunately makes the D in “hedgehug” look like a fancy lowercase A, especially to those still working on their reading skills.

It’s sweet, but it thematically (and eponymously) replicates Dan Pinto and Benn Sutton’s Hedgehug (2011)—with much less verve . (Picture book. 2-5)

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-62779-404-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Sept. 21, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2015

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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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