Visually striking but conceptually flawed

READ REVIEW

MANY MOONS

A FUN GUIDE TO LEARNING ABOUT MOON PHASES

Moon phases are compared to shapes such as “the cat’s long, curved tail” in this French import.

In strong yellow, black, and white, with large board pages and a die-cut cover revealing a waxing crescent moon, each double-page spread features a different phase. The first spread reads: “On this night, matthew thinks the moon could be a bow for his arrow.” (On other pages, names are capitalized.) The waxing crescent is yellow, while the part of the moon not seen from Earth is shiny black on the matte black background. A small white line drawing of Matthew shooting an arrow shows his yellow bow in the same crescent shape, but the illustrations are not always consistent. The full moon includes a black line drawing of humans and animals. The full-circle shapes are found in the round sunglasses worn by various characters, but some wear square glasses. In the waning gibbous spread, “Holly the owl keeps watch with one eye open.” The black line drawing of the owl shows a black crescent shape, curve down, as the “open” eye. The shiny black sliver that represents the part of the moon not seen orients the curve to the right. This inconsistency gets in the way of helping young readers make sense of the phases. The final spread, with text for older readers, offers a more comprehensive sense of how the phases progress.

Visually striking but conceptually flawed . (Informational picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: May 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-63322-298-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Walter Foster Jr.

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2017

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THIS BOOK IS GRAY

A gray character tries to write an all-gray book.

The six primary and secondary colors are building a rainbow, each contributing the hue of their own body, and Gray feels forlorn and left out because rainbows contain no gray. So Gray—who, like the other characters, has a solid, triangular body, a doodle-style face, and stick limbs—sets off alone to create “the GRAYest book ever.” His book inside a book shows a peaceful gray cliff house near a gray sea with gentle whitecaps; his three gray characters—hippo, wolf, kitten—wait for their arc to begin. But then the primaries arrive and call the gray scene “dismal, bleak, and gloomy.” The secondaries show up too, and soon everyone’s overrunning Gray’s creation. When Gray refuses to let White and Black participate, astute readers will note the flaw: White and black (the colors) had already been included in the early all-gray spreads. Ironically, Gray’s book within a book displays calm, passable art while the metabook’s unsubtle illustrations and sloppy design make for cramped and crowded pages that are too busy to hold visual focus. The speech-bubble dialogue’s snappy enough (Blue calls people “dude,” and there are puns). A convoluted moral muddles the core artistic question—whether a whole book can be gray—and instead highlights a trite message about working together.

Low grade. (glossary) (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5420-4340-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Two Lions

Review Posted Online: July 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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A quiet, warm look at the bond between grandfather and grandson.

MAX AND THE TAG-ALONG MOON

After a visit, an African-American grandfather and grandson say farewell under a big yellow moon. Granpa tells Max it is the same moon he will see when he gets home.

This gently told story uses Max’s fascination with the moon’s ability to “tag along” where his family’s car goes as a metaphor for his grandfather’s constant love. Separating the two relatives is “a swervy-curvy road” that travels up and down hills, over a bridge, “past a field of sleeping cows,” around a small town and through a tunnel. No matter where Max travels, the moon is always there, waiting around a curve or peeking through the trees. But then “[d]ark clouds tumbled across the night sky.” No stars, no nightingales and no moon are to be found. Max frets: “Granpa said it would always shine for me.” Disappointed, Max climbs into bed, missing both the moon and his granpa. In a dramatic double-page spread, readers see Max’s excitement as “[s]lowly, very slowly, Max’s bedroom began to fill with a soft yellow glow.” Cooper uses his signature style to illustrate both the landscape—sometimes viewed from the car windows or reflected in the vehicle’s mirror—and the expressive faces of his characters. Coupled with the story’s lyrical text, this is a lovely mood piece.

A quiet, warm look at the bond between grandfather and grandson. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: June 13, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-399-23342-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: March 13, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2013

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