ALFIE'S 1-2-3

Alfie and his little sister Annie Rose are back, this time introducing the numbers one through ten in a playful approach to counting. Hughes (The Lion and the Unicorn. 1999, etc.) uses familiar topics, such as birthday parties and visits to Grandma’s, to capture the reader’s attention while incorporating the numbers into an engaging series of vignettes about Alfie, Annie Rose and their friends and family. Prominently placed in the corner of the page is the featured number. Next to each numeral is the corresponding number of dots, giving readers a visual reference to reinforce the concept. Naturally Alfie leaves his individual stamp on the tale as he and readers count everything from inquisitive pigs and birthday balloons to cows munching in a field. In a novel approach, Hughes also provides more than one example for each number along with some simple addition. “Eight people walking to work up Alfie’s street. Are the same number coming home again? If you add one little dog, that makes nine.” Her winning illustrations feature cherubic children doing what comes naturally: playing in the park, snuggling up with friends, etc. The warmly drawn pictures, brimming with detail, beckon to readers, encouraging them to explore their world. Fans of Alfie will savor this newest adventure while the uninitiated will quickly discover why this series has such enduring popularity with children and adults alike. (Picture book. 2-5)

Pub Date: March 31, 2000

ISBN: 0-688-17705-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2000

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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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LITTLE QUACK

The odyssey of ducklings venturing forth from their comfortable nests into the big world resonates with children and has been a well-traveled subject of many works geared toward young readers. Thompson’s (Mouse’s First Valentine, 2002, etc.) latest effort will certainly appeal to youngsters despite its lack of originality. Mama Duck is coaxing her five hesitant ducklings (Widdle, Waddle, Piddle, Puddle, and Little Quack) into the water one at a time. A “quack-u-lator” at the bottom of the pages adds an interesting mathematical element, helping children count along as ducklings jump into the pond. Mama encourages each nervous duckling to “paddle on the water with me . . . you can do it . . . I know you can.” Overcoming their initial fright, the first four ducklings “splish, splash, sploosh, and splosh” happily into the water. The simple tale’s climax occurs when Little Quack wavers at the water’s edge. “Could he do it? Did he dare?” Not to spoil the ending, but suffice it to say all five ducklings swim off “proud as can be.” In his debut effort, Anderson’s bright and colorful illustrations are lively and captivating. The five adorable ducklings embark on this rite of passage sporting unique looks ranging from Mohawk-type head feathers to orange spots and flowered hair adornments. A pleasant enough take on an old standby. (Picture book. 2-5)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2003

ISBN: 0-689-84723-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2002

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