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

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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A sweet, simple story with a nicely offbeat heroine.

THE FRIEND SHIP

All the animals are welcome to come aboard.

Hedgehog seems very lonely, “curled up in a prickly little ball in a lonely little nook of a lonely little tree.” When she overhears a sympathetic conversation about friendship “out there,” she perks up, picturing a beautiful “Friend Ship.” Hedgehog sets sail with a curious beaver in a small boat to find it. Before long, the duo spots a herd of migrating deer on the shore. Hedgehog asks if they’ve seen the Friend Ship; all reply that they could use a friend and hop aboard. Next, the company spies a rat, who asks to join them. They sail in multiple directions to no avail. Hedgehog begins to lose hope, but her companions convince her to persist. She spots a small island, its only resident an elephant. Hedgehog swims the distance and asks the elephant about the Friend Ship. The elephant points at Hedgehog’s small boat full of animals and asks, “Isn’t that it—right over there?” It’s a lightning-bolt moment. Hedgehog invites the elephant aboard, and they sail west, celebrating all the while…into the sunset together. Yeh makes effective use of dialogue and repetition, investing her characters with personality with just a few lines. Groenink employs sunny, warm hues that increase in saturation as the boat fills and Hedgehog becomes surrounded by friends.

A sweet, simple story with a nicely offbeat heroine. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Dec. 6, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4847-0726-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Oct. 11, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2016

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