These are spinoffs from a TV series that is itself a spinoff. Not surprisingly, the dilution of both visual and literary...

AFTER THE STORM

From the Guess How Much I Love You series

The Guess How Much I Love You franchise sets a low bar for its knockoff sequels.

Seeing dark clouds gather, Little Nutbrown Hare, Little Field Mouse, Little Grey Squirrel and Little Redwood Fox (who is, evidently, not very hungry) join Big Nutbrown Hare in a cave, then venture out after the storm to splash about and see a rainbow. The soft, intimate texture of the art in the original stories is gone, replaced by hard-edged, less finely drawn details and creatures depicted with generic postures and expressions. The animal figures are mechanically superimposed into the scenes in the manner of an animated cartoon and so float over the background meadows rather than run through them and stand atop rather than in the solid-looking puddles. With similar disregard for production values, in the co-published Snow Magic, Big and Little Nutbrown watch snow fall from a slightly misted moonlit sky, then with Little Field Mouse gambol over the drifts without appearing to touch them. In this second episode, Little Nutbrown’s mild character undergoes a sudden alteration as well: “[He] gave a crafty smile as he kicked his ball with another mighty kick. ‘Race you!’ ”

These are spinoffs from a TV series that is itself a spinoff. Not surprisingly, the dilution of both visual and literary quality goes beyond atrocious. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 24, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-7636-6993-5

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: May 29, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2013

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PIRATES DON'T TAKE BATHS

Echoes of Runaway Bunny color this exchange between a bath-averse piglet and his patient mother. Using a strategy that would probably be a nonstarter in real life, the mother deflects her stubborn offspring’s string of bath-free occupational conceits with appeals to reason: “Pirates NEVER EVER take baths!” “Pirates don’t get seasick either. But you do.” “Yeesh. I’m an astronaut, okay?” “Well, it is hard to bathe in zero gravity. It’s hard to poop and pee in zero gravity too!” And so on, until Mom’s enticing promise of treasure in the deep sea persuades her little Treasure Hunter to take a dive. Chunky figures surrounded by lots of bright white space in Segal’s minimally detailed watercolors keep the visuals as simple as the plotline. The language isn’t quite as basic, though, and as it rendered entirely in dialogue—Mother Pig’s lines are italicized—adult readers will have to work hard at their vocal characterizations for it to make any sense. Moreover, younger audiences (any audiences, come to that) may wonder what the piggy’s watery closing “EUREKA!!!” is all about too. Not particularly persuasive, but this might coax a few young porkers to get their trotters into the tub. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: March 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-399-25425-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: Jan. 26, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2011

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THIS BOOK IS GRAY

A gray character tries to write an all-gray book.

The six primary and secondary colors are building a rainbow, each contributing the hue of their own body, and Gray feels forlorn and left out because rainbows contain no gray. So Gray—who, like the other characters, has a solid, triangular body, a doodle-style face, and stick limbs—sets off alone to create “the GRAYest book ever.” His book inside a book shows a peaceful gray cliff house near a gray sea with gentle whitecaps; his three gray characters—hippo, wolf, kitten—wait for their arc to begin. But then the primaries arrive and call the gray scene “dismal, bleak, and gloomy.” The secondaries show up too, and soon everyone’s overrunning Gray’s creation. When Gray refuses to let White and Black participate, astute readers will note the flaw: White and black (the colors) had already been included in the early all-gray spreads. Ironically, Gray’s book within a book displays calm, passable art while the metabook’s unsubtle illustrations and sloppy design make for cramped and crowded pages that are too busy to hold visual focus. The speech-bubble dialogue’s snappy enough (Blue calls people “dude,” and there are puns). A convoluted moral muddles the core artistic question—whether a whole book can be gray—and instead highlights a trite message about working together.

Low grade. (glossary) (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5420-4340-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Two Lions

Review Posted Online: July 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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