MARY HAD A LITTLE LAMB

This classic poem, written in 1830, continues to be a favorite childhood rhyme for illustrators to illuminate. Huliska-Beith has chosen to illustrate her version with acrylic, gouache and fabric collages, digitally assembled. Her style aims for gently exaggerated humor, especially the schoolkids’ reactions when they "see a lamb at school." The characters have oversized heads, fabric-patterned clothing and teeny noses. Mary is blonde with puffy, rouged cheeks and wears red cowboy boots, while the lamb’s coat looks like swirls of meringue. Most modern readers will probably be surprised to discover several extra stanzas, and the sentimental, 19th-century language may leave them cold: The teacher advises the children, "And you each gentle animal / in confidence may bind, / and make them follow at your call, / if you are always kind." An author’s note provides a bit of history of the rhyme, citing a dubious (evidently unfounded) claim by Mary Sawyer Tyler that she was the “original” Mary. There is a flock of versions, from board books to big books, and spoofs (Jack Lechner and Bob Staake fracture the tale in Mary Had a Little Lamp, 2008) to sing-alongs, but many are out of print. Kids will respond to the embellished silliness of this one, but for charm, Salley Mavor’s stitchery images can’t be beat (2000). Music is not included. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: March 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-7614-5824-1

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Marshall Cavendish

Review Posted Online: Feb. 11, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2011

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While there are many rhyming truck books out there, this stands out for being a collection of poems.

DIGGER, DOZER, DUMPER

Rhyming poems introduce children to anthropomorphized trucks of all sorts, as well as the jobs that they do.

Adorable multiethnic children are the drivers of these 16 trucks—from construction equipment to city trucks, rescue vehicles and a semi—easily standing in for readers, a point made very clear on the final spread. Varying rhyme schemes and poem lengths help keep readers’ attention. For the most part, the rhymes and rhythms work, as in this, from “Cement Mixer”: “No time to wait; / he can’t sit still. / He has to beg your pardon. / For if he dawdles on the way, / his slushy load will harden.” Slonim’s trucks each sport an expressive pair of eyes, but the anthropomorphism stops there, at least in the pictures—Vestergaard sometimes takes it too far, as in “Bulldozer”: “He’s not a bully, either, / although he’s big and tough. / He waits his turn, plays well with friends, / and pushes just enough.” A few trucks’ jobs get short shrift, to mixed effect: “Skid-Steer Loader” focuses on how this truck moves without the typical steering wheel, but “Semi” runs with a royalty analogy and fails to truly impart any knowledge. The acrylic-and-charcoal artwork, set against white backgrounds, keeps the focus on the trucks and the jobs they are doing.

While there are many rhyming truck books out there, this stands out for being a collection of poems. (Picture book/poetry. 3-6)

Pub Date: Aug. 27, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-7636-5078-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: May 29, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2013

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A testament to the universality of love.

AMOR IS TO LOVE YOU

From the Canticos series

An expanded explanation of love in both English and Spanish.

Several animal personalities pose the question, “What is love?” and in a series of lift-the-flap responses present various emotional scenarios. Little Elephant asks Spider, “Is it the joy of having you around?” Spider asks, “Is it the way you lift me when I’m down?” Each page corresponds to a flap that reveals one of a multitude of feelings love can evoke in either an English or Spanish rhyme, which are not direct translations of each other. An interspersed refrain notes, “Amor for the Spanish, / and love en inglés. / Love in any language / always means the same.” A palette of pastels and purple and pink hues dominate as hearts abound on each page, surrounding the characters, who are adorable though on the overly sweet side. The characters are from the bilingual preschool series Canticos, though it will work even among those without knowledge of the show. Children more fluent in Spanish will be better able to appreciate this, and those familiar with the show will recognize the signature characters, including “Los Pollitos” (Little Chickies). (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A testament to the universality of love. (Board book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Nov. 8, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-945635-72-4

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Roaring Brook Press

Review Posted Online: Sept. 28, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2022

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