MOTOR GOOSE

Mother Goose gets a mechanical makeover in this gear-inspired nursery-rhyme collection.

Twenty-three familiar rhymes are rewritten with a wide range of vehicles in mind. As nursery rhymes are such a flexible form, they easily lend themselves to Colby’s motorized reimaginings. Whether it’s “Little Miss Mixer,” “This Little Steam Train,” or “Bumpty Dumpty” (about a dump truck, naturally), caregivers should have no difficulty singing, chanting, or rhythmically reading the verses on display. Each scans perfectly, never requiring readers to engage in any verbal gymnastics. There are even helpful hints for caregivers below each poem’s title, indicating its original name (“Little Jack Junker” references “Little Jack Horner,” for instance). While most of the poems in this collection pass muster, the same cannot be said for Kaminsky’s digital art. His cartoony anthropomorphic vehicles are rendered with little sophistication in their depictions and as much attention to scale. The media notes tell readers outlines were drawn with a digital piece of soft vine charcoal, but the inconsistency in their thickness between the vehicles and animals depicted gives the compositions a cut-and-paste quality. The result is a book with aural but not visual charm.

A partial misfire. (Picture book. 2-5)

Pub Date: July 11, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-250-10193-8

Page Count: 34

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Review Posted Online: May 24, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2017

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ROCK-A-BYE BABY

A riff on the familiar lullaby depicts various animal parents, and then a human father, soothing their sleepy little ones.

An opening spread includes the traditional first verse of the titular lullaby, but instead of depicting a human baby in a treetop cradle, the accompanying illustration shows a large tree as habitat to the animals that are highlighted on subsequent pages. First the perspective zooms in on a painterly illustration rendered in acrylics of a mother squirrel cuddling her baby with text reading “Rock-a-bye Squirrel, / high in the tree, / in Mommy’s arms, / cozy as can be.” In this spread and others the cadence doesn’t quite fit with the familiar tune, and repeated verses featuring different animals—all opening with the “Rock-a-bye” line—don’t give way to the resolution. No winds blow, no boughs break, and the repetitive forced rhythm of the verse could cause stumbles when attempting a read-aloud. The final image of a human father and baby, whose skin tone and hair texture suggest that they are perhaps of South Asian descent, provides pleasing visual resolution in a book with art that outshines text.

Ho-hum. (Picture book. 2-4)

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-8234-3753-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: June 27, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2017

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Smoother rides are out there.

BUSY STREET

From the Beginner Books series

Mommy and Bonnie—two anthropomorphic rodents—go for a joyride and notice a variety of conveyances around their busy town.

The pair encounter 22 types of vocational vehicles as they pass various sites, including a fire engine leaving a firehouse, a school bus approaching a school, and a tractor trailer delivering goods to a supermarket. Narrated in rhyming quatrains, the book describes the jobs that each wheeled machine does. The text uses simple vocabulary and sentences, with sight words aplenty. Some of the rhymes don't scan as well as others, and the description of the mail truck’s role ("A mail truck brings / letters and cards / to mailboxes / in people's yards) ignores millions of readers living in yardless dwellings. The colorful digitally illustrated spreads are crowded with animal characters of every type hustling and bustling about. Although the art is busy, observant viewers may find humor in details such as a fragile item falling out of a moving truck, a line of ducks holding up traffic, and a squirrel’s spilled ice cream. For younger children enthralled by vehicles, Sally Sutton’s Roadwork (2011) and Elizabeth Verdick’s Small Walt series provide superior text and art and kinder humor. Children who have little interest in cars, trucks, and construction equipment may find this offering a yawner. Despite being advertised as a beginner book, neither text nor art recommend this as an engaging choice for children starting to read independently. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Smoother rides are out there. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Jan. 4, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-37725-3

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Nov. 16, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2021

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