Bright and bold, this will certainly catch the eye of every reader.

CHINESE NEW YEAR COLORS

A color-concept book with a bilingual, cultural twist.

Chinese New Year gets a daring new look. A single color dominates a complete page spread. On recto, the name of the featured color in English is displayed on a white background while both the traditional Chinese characters and a romanized rendition, complete with accent marks, appear below in an inverse color scheme. A single cultural object related to Chinese New Year fully occupies the right. Here Lo’s talents shine with his renderings. The composition is simple, with the object sitting solo, centered within the line of sight. Artistic liberties are tastefully taken, with the object portrayed in a singular color that is occasionally contrary to tradition. Yet no embellishments are lost in the deceptively spare composition. This is best observed on the portrait of the teapot. Lo makes sure that no flower, leaf, or curly twirl of its details is omitted. The objects seem to pop due to the skilled shading and tricks of perspective. The background itself teems with textures, with occasional splatters of paint, bleeding edges, and blooms of watercolor that unevenly occupy the space. Vocabulary-wise, the only outlier is the use of the word “Cerulean” instead of “light blue,” which may require an explanation. A guide describing each object follows.

Bright and bold, this will certainly catch the eye of every reader. (Picture book 2-5)

Pub Date: Nov. 12, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-8234-4371-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: Sept. 29, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2019

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Caregivers eager to expose their children to fine art have better choices than this.

ABCS OF ART

From “Apple” to “Zebra,” an alphabet of images drawn from museum paintings.

In an exhibition that recalls similar, if less parochial, ABCs from the Metropolitan Museum of Art (My First ABC, 2009) and several other institutions, Hahn presents a Eurocentric selection of paintings or details to illustrate for each letter a common item or animal—all printed with reasonable clarity and captioned with identifying names, titles, and dates. She then proceeds to saddle each with an inane question (“What sounds do you think this cat is making?” “Where can you find ice?”) and a clumsily written couplet that unnecessarily repeats the artist’s name: “Flowers are plants that blossom and bloom. / Frédéric Bazille painted them filling up this room!” She also sometimes contradicts the visuals, claiming that the horses in a Franz Marc painting entitled “Two Horses, 1912” are ponies, apparently to populate the P page. Moreover, her “X” is an actual X-ray of a Jean-Honoré Fragonard, showing that the artist repainted his subject’s face…interesting but not quite in keeping with the familiar subjects chosen for the other letters.

Caregivers eager to expose their children to fine art have better choices than this. (Informational picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Sept. 17, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5107-4938-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sky Pony Press

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

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A timely message in the wrong format.

TOGETHER

This book delivers a message on the power of collective action.

As the book opens, a child looks at a lone star shining in the sky: “One star shines as distant light.” After the turn of the page, the child now sees what looks like the Milky Way: “And when stars shine together, they make our galaxy.” The book goes on to give a number of similar examples to reinforce the message of the power that comes from working together, ending with: “One of us can speak up for justice / And when we speak up together we create a world of possibility.” In the current atmosphere of strife and discord that divides our country, this is certainly a welcome message. Perhaps, though, the board-book set is not the right audience. As a picture book aimed at a slightly older group with an information page at the end explaining some of the illustrations, it might work well. As it is, however, some of the visual references will merely puzzle a toddler—and some adults. For example, a group of angry-looking people raising their fists and singing together may not look like “harmony” to a toddler—unless they know about the New Zealand haka. There is an unexplained frog motif that runs through the book that may also mystify readers. Nagara’s brilliant illustrations portray people of many ethnic backgrounds.

A timely message in the wrong format. (Board book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Oct. 5, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-64421-084-0

Page Count: 44

Publisher: Triangle Square Books for Young Readers

Review Posted Online: Sept. 24, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2021

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