Next book


Busy design seeks to illustrate Aesop’s fable of the crow and the pitcher, with an emphasis on the scientific method—hence, presumably, the “Professor” Aesop of the title. The story is told straightforwardly and without linguistic elaboration: the thirsty crow finds a pitcher of water; the water level being too low for his beak to reach, he uses the principle of water displacement to raise the level of the water with a series of pebbles until he is able to drink. With a heavy reliance on digital technique, newcomer Brown’s full-bleed, mixed-media illustrations add what are probably meant to be clever touches: a thermometer measuring the “ambient temperature” (a term that goes unexplained), a Thirst-o-meter, a determination scale, and a pebble indicator are added one by one as the crow works through his solution. Blueprint diagrams illustrate both the essential problem and the solution, and an X-ray shows the raising of the water level in process. The moral—“Necessity + Perseverance (that’s good old hard work) = Invention”—precedes a busy and confusing double-paged spread explanation of “the scientific method according to crow.” The notion of introducing children to the scientific method is praiseworthy, but this attempt to illustrate it falls victim to its own cuteness. While the various scales at the sides of the page are entertaining, they add little to the mission of the narrative, instead serving to distract the reader from the simple elegance of the crow’s solution. The illustrations are bright and appealing, but in the end they are more obfuscatory than illustrative. Children are natural scientists; they do not need these extraneous bells and whistles to encourage exploration. (Picture book/nonfiction. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 1, 2003

ISBN: 1-58246-087-6

Page Count: 30

Publisher: Tricycle

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2003

Next book


Dedicated “to children everywhere sitting in cardboard boxes,” this elemental debut depicts a bunny with big, looping ears demonstrating to a rather thick, unseen questioner (“Are you still standing around in that box?”) that what might look like an ordinary carton is actually a race car, a mountain, a burning building, a spaceship or anything else the imagination might dream up. Portis pairs each question and increasingly emphatic response with a playscape of Crockett Johnson–style simplicity, digitally drawn with single red and black lines against generally pale color fields. Appropriately bound in brown paper, this makes its profound point more directly than such like-themed tales as Marisabina Russo’s Big Brown Box (2000) or Dana Kessimakis Smith’s Brave Spaceboy (2005). (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-06-112322-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2006

Next book



Mr. Brown can’t help with farm chores because his shoes are missing—a common occurrence in his household and likely in many readers’ as well.

Children will be delighted that the titular Mr. Brown is in fact a child. After Mr. Brown looks in his closet and sorts through his other family members’ shoes with no luck, his father and his siblings help him search the farm. Eventually—after colorful pages that enable readers to spot footwear hiding—the family gives up on their hunt, and Mr. Brown asks to be carried around for the chores. He rides on his father’s shoulders as Papa gets his work done, as seen on a double-page spread of vignettes. The resolution is more of a lesson for the adult readers than for children, a saccharine moment where father and son express their joy that the missing shoes gave them the opportunity for togetherness—with advice for other parents to appreciate those fleeting moments themselves. Though the art is bright and cheerful, taking advantage of the setting, it occasionally is misaligned with the text (for example, the text states that Mr. Brown is wearing his favorite green shirt while the illustration is of a shirt with wide stripes of white and teal blue, which could confuse readers at the point where they’re trying to figure out which family member is Mr. Brown). The family is light-skinned. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Pedestrian. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 14, 2023

ISBN: 978-1-5460-0389-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: WorthyKids/Ideals

Review Posted Online: Nov. 15, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2022

Close Quickview