Elephant’s pure joy in exploration and success are sure to be catching, so make sure the blocks are close at hand.

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CRASH! BOOM! A MATH TALE

An elephant tot stacks wooden blocks to measure height.

Elephant’s block play is just like young readers’: Elephant kneels, crouches, and stands in the course of building towers that equal their own height. A smile and wide-thrown arms express joy and satisfaction with a job well-done. And when the inevitable oops happens, the reaction is also believable: eyes shut tight, mouth a downward bow, and tears…unless it was a purposeful “crash-boom.” But Elephant is not one to give up easily, and they learn through play that one extra-long block, two rectangular blocks, four square blocks on their ends, and eight square blocks on their faces are all the same height. Chatterton’s illustrations combine collaged-in photos of real wooden blocks; an expressive blue cartoon elephant with a purple shirt, dot eyes, and rosy cheeks; and basic backgrounds—either white space or a yellow wall and green carpet separated by a white baseboard. Unlike many other math titles, there is no note to parents or teachers and no directions to kids—it’s just a simple tale of a child exploring with blocks.

Elephant’s pure joy in exploration and success are sure to be catching, so make sure the blocks are close at hand. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: May 8, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-7636-7827-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Feb. 20, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2018

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A comical, fresh look at crayons and color

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THE DAY THE CRAYONS QUIT

Duncan wants to draw, but instead of crayons, he finds a stack of letters listing the crayons’ demands in this humorous tale.

Red is overworked, laboring even on holidays. Gray is exhausted from coloring expansive spaces (elephants, rhinos and whales). Black wants to be considered a color-in color, and Peach? He’s naked without his wrapper! This anthropomorphized lot amicably requests workplace changes in hand-lettered writing, explaining their work stoppage to a surprised Duncan. Some are tired, others underutilized, while a few want official titles. With a little creativity and a lot of color, Duncan saves the day. Jeffers delivers energetic and playful illustrations, done in pencil, paint and crayon. The drawings are loose and lively, and with few lines, he makes his characters effectively emote. Clever spreads, such as Duncan’s “white cat in the snow” perfectly capture the crayons’ conundrum, and photographic representations of both the letters and coloring pages offer another layer of texture, lending to the tale’s overall believability.

A comical, fresh look at crayons and color . (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: June 27, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-399-25537-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: April 15, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2013

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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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