Start your engines! (Picture book. 4-7)

READ REVIEW

ABCS ON WHEELS

Moving vehicles are not a new theme for alphabet books, but only a few tackle a variety of machines rather than focusing on just one type; this is one of those exceptions.

Uncluttered, graphically flat illustrations make this one appealing. The majority of the letters are used descriptively or associatively rather than beginning names of wheeled vehicles. Given that approach, some letters are logical, such as Aa for axle, Bb for bumper, Gg for garage and grease, and Yy for yellow cab, while others are a stretch. It’s the creative juxtaposition of images across the double-page spreads that create scenes and keep this from needing an oil change. Jj for junkyard and Kk for kaput show a tow truck hauling away a crashed SUV; Pp and Qq for plugged in and quiet demonstrate an electric car undergoing tests; a man in a hot rod is seen chasing an ice-cream truck. Unusual choices are Rr for (lunar) rover, Ss for stagecoach, Uu for underdog, Vv for victory lane, and Ww for winner. For the letter Xx, two dueling excavators form an X with their buckets poised to dig over a marked spot. A natural pairing is Ll for limousine and Mm for motorcade. Olivera depicts humans in a variety of skin tones, adding whimsy with such touches as a bulldog in a bowler hat, a knight in full armor, and the queen all riding in a double-decker London bus.

Start your engines! (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: July 5, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4814-3244-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little Simon/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: March 30, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2016

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While this is a fairly bland treatment compared to Deborah Lee Rose and Carey Armstrong-Ellis’ The Twelve Days of...

ON THE FIRST DAY OF KINDERGARTEN

Rabe follows a young girl through her first 12 days of kindergarten in this book based on the familiar Christmas carol.

The typical firsts of school are here: riding the bus, making friends, sliding on the playground slide, counting, sorting shapes, laughing at lunch, painting, singing, reading, running, jumping rope, and going on a field trip. While the days are given ordinal numbers, the song skips the cardinal numbers in the verses, and the rhythm is sometimes off: “On the second day of kindergarten / I thought it was so cool / making lots of friends / and riding the bus to my school!” The narrator is a white brunette who wears either a tunic or a dress each day, making her pretty easy to differentiate from her classmates, a nice mix in terms of race; two students even sport glasses. The children in the ink, paint, and collage digital spreads show a variety of emotions, but most are happy to be at school, and the surroundings will be familiar to those who have made an orientation visit to their own schools.

While this is a fairly bland treatment compared to Deborah Lee Rose and Carey Armstrong-Ellis’ The Twelve Days of Kindergarten (2003), it basically gets the job done. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: June 21, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-06-234834-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 4, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2016

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A welcome addition to autumnal storytelling—and to tales of traditional enemies overcoming their history.

THE SCARECROW

Ferry and the Fans portray a popular seasonal character’s unlikely friendship.

Initially, the protagonist is shown in his solitary world: “Scarecrow stands alone and scares / the fox and deer, / the mice and crows. / It’s all he does. It’s all he knows.” His presence is effective; the animals stay outside the fenced-in fields, but the omniscient narrator laments the character’s lack of friends or places to go. Everything changes when a baby crow falls nearby. Breaking his pole so he can bend, the scarecrow picks it up, placing the creature in the bib of his overalls while singing a lullaby. Both abandon natural tendencies until the crow learns to fly—and thus departs. The aabb rhyme scheme flows reasonably well, propelling the narrative through fall, winter, and spring, when the mature crow returns with a mate to build a nest in the overalls bib that once was his home. The Fan brothers capture the emotional tenor of the seasons and the main character in their panoramic pencil, ballpoint, and digital compositions. Particularly poignant is the close-up of the scarecrow’s burlap face, his stitched mouth and leaf-rimmed head conveying such sadness after his companion goes. Some adults may wonder why the scarecrow seems to have only partial agency, but children will be tuned into the problem, gratified by the resolution.

A welcome addition to autumnal storytelling—and to tales of traditional enemies overcoming their history. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-247576-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2019

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