This will have many children looking for meaning all around them.

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LINES, SQUIGGLES, LETTERS, WORDS

A child’s transition to literacy is celebrated in this Brazilian import.

Little Pedro is an observant boy. Surrounded by “all kinds of posters, billboards, and signs,” he can understand most of the pictures, but others make no sense to him, “like the little signs on each street corner.” His mom explains that it’s the name of the street, but he sees just “a bunch of drawings,” represented as serpentine scribbles in the illustrations. One day, his mother tells him he will start school, where he will begin to “understand…the letters and numbers you are always asking about.” On the first day, Pedro’s teacher introduces her students to the letter A, and suddenly he sees “that the signs, billboards, and shop windows all had his teacher’s A.” Now, among the scribbles on the signs, Matoso places clearly distinguishable A’s. Each day, with each new letter, “the miracle continued to happen” until Pedro is reading, and letters completely replace the scribbles. Rocha’s text is marvelously child-centered, never leaving Pedro’s perspective and realistically evoking the way letter acquisition turns nonsense into sense for most children. Matoso’s striking, posterlike illustrations use a limited palette of, mostly, red, pink, blue, black, and olive, allowing figures and patterns to occasionally merge with negative space, visually reinforcing the mental gymnastics involved in deciphering letters, her awareness of environmental print as keen as Pedro’s.

This will have many children looking for meaning all around them. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Nov. 15, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-59270-208-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Enchanted Lion Books

Review Posted Online: Sept. 19, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2016

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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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It’s a bit hard to dance, or count, to this beat.

ONE MORE DINO ON THE FLOOR

Dinos that love to move and groove get children counting from one to 10—and perhaps moving to the beat.

Beginning with a solo bop by a female dino (she has eyelashes, doncha know), the dinosaur dance party begins. Each turn of the page adds another dino and a change in the dance genre: waltz, country line dancing, disco, limbo, square dancing, hip-hop, and swing. As the party would be incomplete without the moonwalk, the T. Rex does the honors…and once they are beyond their initial panic at his appearance, the onlookers cheer wildly. The repeated refrain on each spread allows for audience participation, though it doesn’t easily trip off the tongue: “They hear a swish. / What’s this? / One more? / One more dino on the floor.” Some of the prehistoric beasts are easily identifiable—pterodactyl, ankylosaurus, triceratops—but others will be known only to the dino-obsessed; none are identified, other than T-Rex. Packed spreads filled with psychedelically colored dinos sporting blocks of color, stripes, or polka dots (and infectious looks of joy) make identification even more difficult, to say nothing of counting them. Indeed, this fails as a counting primer: there are extra animals (and sometimes a grumpy T-Rex) in the backgrounds, and the next dino to join the party pokes its head into the frame on the page before. Besides all that, most kids won’t get the dance references.

It’s a bit hard to dance, or count, to this beat. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: March 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-8075-1598-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Whitman

Review Posted Online: Jan. 20, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2016

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