Vivid and fun examples cannot make up for fundamental flaws.


From the Shapes & Spaces series

The first two entries in the Shapes & Spaces series feature eye-catching and varied photos with lots of kid appeal. Unfortunately, the art, rhyming verse and development of the concepts fail to add up to solid learning tools.

“A square has every / side the same, // and lots of them / can make a game.” From flat squares to cubes, the photos show a wide variety of examples from the everyday world: an empty box serving as a toy house, blocks, the pattern of a soccer net. But even the youngest readers are sure to notice the glaring examples—window panes and a chocolate-covered cookie—that show rectangles instead of squares. The authors then inexplicably move from shapes to an exploration of stripes (a pattern!) about two-thirds into the book. Ladybugs Have Lots of Spots (978-1-55451-557-8), stronger than its companion, focuses only on circles, spheres and cylinders. “Round black tires, / lots of tread, / go on green / and stop on red.” The examples here are just as varied and kid-friendly: buttons, a hula hoop, the inside of a tube slide, polka dots, a cat’s collar, the holes in a watering can. Both books end rather abruptly and lack any note about how to use/extend the concepts with children.

Vivid and fun examples cannot make up for fundamental flaws. (Concept book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-55451-580-6

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Annick Press

Review Posted Online: Sept. 13, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2013

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A sweet, poetic ode to autumn.


A rhyming celebration of imagination.

A child with brown skin offers gentle, artful ideas about what to do with autumn leaves. The picture book's idyllic setting seems Northeastern in nature, with deciduous trees shedding leaves, which the child scoops up. Could a leaf from a tree become a hat, a Halloween mask, a hammock, or something else entirely? "It could be a horn that blows, announcing that we're here. // A leafy parade to celebrate our favorite time of year." Rhyme rules the text but isn't forced in the least. Collaged leaves against painted illustrations encourage play and imagination. A nod to winter and spring make this a year-round read. Endpapers with realistic labeled images of leaves provide an injection of information in this otherwise dreamy musing. The backmatter includes instructions on collaging—a meaningful and fun activity that builds upon the text. While there's nothing groundbreaking here, there is opportunity for both learning and whimsy. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A sweet, poetic ode to autumn. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: July 12, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-30659-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Random House Studio

Review Posted Online: April 12, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2022

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


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. 19, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2016

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