Skills practice and a peek at the school day: a solid way to prepare.



Readers count to 10 and back down again as they follow an elementary-age student through a typical school day.

“ONE backpack. / TWO teachers” sees the child (who has brown skin and hair in one long, brown braid) arriving, apple in hand. Smaller text in the illustrations directs readers toward other objects to count: “1 globe,” “2 pencils.” The kids listen to their teachers, explore the classroom, play with blocks. Then “TEN chickpeas line up” for snack, each child standing under their own charming, realistically childlike self-portrait. The diverse class includes a range of skin colors and hairstyles, a child who uses a wheelchair (and sits on the floor without it at times), one with hearing aids and an assistive listening device, one wearing glasses, and one in hijab. One teacher has brown skin and puffy brown hair; the other teacher presents Asian. Recess, rest time, more learning, and yoga poses round out the day. Fascinating textures and colors, often supplied by collaged-in bits of found paper (such as ticket stubs and old-fashioned date due cards) fill the pages, inviting readers to look closely. Most of the items are easy to find and count. The characters are rendered in a naïve, folk-art style with two-dimensional stiffness, and one child’s missing front tooth is almost distractingly conspicuous. The final, titular message comes on the penultimate page and is posted on the wall along with a banner saying, “We are ONE community.” Backmatter includes the numbers from 11 to 20, with items to count for each.

Skills practice and a peek at the school day: a solid way to prepare. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: June 16, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-16381-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: May 17, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2020

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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 15, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2015

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A sweet, tender and charming experience to read aloud or together.


A clueless duckling tries to make a new friend.

He is confused by this peculiar-looking duck, who has a long tail, doesn’t waddle and likes to be alone. No matter how explicitly the creature denies he is a duck and announces that he is a cat, the duckling refuses to acknowledge the facts.  When this creature expresses complete lack of interest in playing puddle stomp, the little ducking goes off and plays on his own. But the cat is not without remorse for rejecting an offered friendship. Of course it all ends happily, with the two new friends enjoying each other’s company. Bramsen employs brief sentences and the simplest of rhymes to tell this slight tale. The two heroes are meticulously drawn with endearing, expressive faces and body language, and their feathers and fur appear textured and touchable. Even the detailed tree bark and grass seem three-dimensional. There are single- and double-page spreads, panels surrounded by white space and circular and oval frames, all in a variety of eye-pleasing juxtapositions. While the initial appeal is solidly visual, young readers will get the gentle message that friendship is not something to take for granted but is to be embraced with open arms—or paws and webbed feet.

A sweet, tender and charming experience to read aloud or together. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Jan. 22, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-375-86990-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Nov. 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2012

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