The concepts have gone slightly askew, but the book can spark discussion, which just might be the only educational bent...


In a style reminiscent of Laura Vaccaro Seeger, Previn uses die cuts and simple phrasing to explore many different kinds of spots.

It has all the makings of a grand concept book—squat, square trim, bright colors—but it’s a bit unclear on the actual concept it is trying to teach or, in fact, exactly what the “spot” is. The cover may lead children to believe that Spot is a Dalmatian puppy, but within, children will find that “spot” is an omnibus term whose exact meaning is flexible. Many of the “spot” pairs are true opposites: “Spot jumps. / Spot crawls. // Spot flies. / Spot falls” (the “spots” are, respectively, a frog’s spot, ant’s segment, firefly’s light and ladybug’s dot). Some “spots,” like the opening spread that depicts a rooster and an alarm clock (“Spot crows. / Spot wakes”), are similar and not opposite at all. Others, such as a bowling ball and the tires of a car (“Spot rolls. / Spot zooms”), are even more of a stretch. Literal-minded children will go nuts trying to figure out exactly what the “spot” is in each picture. The name of the rooster or its eye? The hole in a tree (“Spot grows”)? If so, is the hole growing or the tree growing? Regardless, the thick, crackled acrylics and heavy brush strokes give incredible texture to each pair. Extreme close-ups and generous swaths of bold colors heighten the exuberance. The playful game of searching for spots just may be enough to carry youngsters through. 

The concepts have gone slightly askew, but the book can spark discussion, which just might be the only educational bent needed. (Picture book. 2-5)

Pub Date: June 17, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-316-21332-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: April 30, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2014

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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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This TV rerun in board-book form has nothing new to offer.


From the Peppa Pig series

Peppa hopes to join her classmates in a Halloween pumpkin competition in this adaptation of a story from the popular British television program Peppa Pig.

With the help of Granny and Grandpa Pig, Peppa turns her giant pumpkin, which is the size of a compact car, into a jack-o’-lantern. The trio is flummoxed when it comes time to transport the pumpkin to the competition, so they call on Miss Rabbit and her helicopter to airlift the pumpkin to the festivities as Peppa and her grandparents ride inside. Peppa arrives just in time for the contest and wins the prize for best flying pumpkin. The scenes look as if they are pulled directly from the television show, right down to the rectangular framing of some of the scenes. While the story is literally nothing new, the text is serviceable, describing the action in two to three sentences per page. The pumpkin-shaped book and orange foil cover will likely attract youngsters, whether they are Peppa fans or not.

This TV rerun in board-book form has nothing new to offer. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: July 30, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-33922-2

Page Count: 10

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Sept. 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2019

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