Quaint independent learning.

How can a puppy fit blocks together to make a place to nap?

Harris and Chatterton team up for another “Math Tale” (CRASH! BOOM!, 2018) in this shapes primer for young readers who’ve graduated from board books. An orange puppy with black ears and white paws has a bag full of wooden blocks. The pup counts and identifies each block, then arranges them through trial and error until there’s a platform big enough to lie on with a blanket and teddy bear. The repetitive text keeps a steady pace and includes exhortations to “Look!” and count the “1. 2. 3. 4 corners” of a rectangle, encouraging reader engagement. The content pushes understanding beyond the basics, noting, for example, how every side of a rectangle block is also rectangular. Sometimes the phrasing can be confusing, as when the puppy examines a new shape and exclaims, “Oh. This is a rectangle that’s square!”—but such moments could be opportunities for young readers to make discoveries of their own in the moment or during a reread. The digitally colored pencil illustrations with some photographic elements are dear, with an appropriate level of simplicity and lots of negative space in its white, pastel blue, or yellow backgrounds. The puppy’s soft curves and spots provide a distinctive visual counter to the beveled edges of the blocks.

Quaint independent learning. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: May 14, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-7636-7828-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: March 16, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2019


Plotless and pointless, the book clearly exists only because its celebrity author wrote it.

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 14, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2015


A droll exploration of color and nature—and a welcome reminder to safeguard our planet.

Daywalt and Jeffers’ wildly popular Crayons have an important ecological message.

Though climate change is never mentioned, the book nevertheless gently introduces responsibility for Planet Earth. As in previous titles, the main text is in a large black font, while the Crayons’ dialogue is presented in a smaller, gray font. Blue begins by showing off a blue-tinged image of the globe (land masses are depicted in a darker hue). Green takes over: “Yay, Trees! I did those!” Beige breaks in, pointing to a tiny wheat plant next to two large trees: “And wheat! I did the WHEAT!” Beige puts wheat front and center throughout—even on White’s drawing of mountaintop ice caps. When Red, Yellow, and Orange display drawings of various fruits, Beige interjects, “And WHEAT. Wheat is totally fruit.” Diplomatic Purple politely responds, “Um. NO. It is not.” Purple attempts to dissuade self-important Beige, but it all ends happily as the Crayons join hands and proclaim: “Our planet has all of us too, in many shapes, colors, and sizes.” Beige and Purple reconcile, with Beige adding, “And it’s our job to keep the planet safe.” Young children will easily absorb this positive message. Although these characters have had many outings, their quiet humor still succeeds, and fans will definitely want this new entry.

A droll exploration of color and nature—and a welcome reminder to safeguard our planet. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Feb. 13, 2024

ISBN: 9780593621080

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: Nov. 18, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2023

Close Quickview