A delightful introduction to a lively way of life.

ALL ABOARD FOR THE BOBO ROAD

Climb onboard a busy bus in Burkina Faso.

A brother and sister accompany their father as he drives his minibus on a long and winding road to Bobo in Burkina Faso. Fatima and Galo are excited to begin their journey, one that passes hippos in the lake, waterfalls, old rock domes, and forests. As they enter the city, they drive by fruit stands and the Grand Mosque, finally ending the trip at a railway station. The people, their luggage, sacks of rice, yams, watermelons, ducks, goats, and chickens—all come off. The travelers can now sell their wares, cook, and ride off on their bicycles and mopeds (also on the bus). But wait, there is one more wrapped package, and it is the best treat for Fatima and Galo: a “huge pot of rice, beans, and fried fish!” Davies, author of Don’t Spill the Milk!, also illustrated by Corr (2013), who has lived in West Africa for years, gives readers an enchanting portrait of daily life along with opportunities to count goats, hippos, ducks, and more. Corr’s folk-style gouache paintings pulsate with energy, bright colors, and design patterns. The natural world, the people, and the animals of Burkina Faso all have great appeal. Double-page maps open and close the tale, highlighting the colorful route.

A delightful introduction to a lively way of life. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-5124-1598-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Andersen Press USA

Review Posted Online: June 28, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2016

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An entertaining, if light, addition to the growing shelf of celebrity-authored picture books.

BUSY BETTY

Actor and author Witherspoon makes her picture-book debut.

Betty, a light-skinned, bespectacled child with blond pigtails, was born busy. Constantly in motion, Betty builds big block towers, cartwheels around the house (underfoot, of course), and plays with the family’s “fantabulous” dog, Frank, who is stinky and dirty. That leads to a big, busy, bright idea that, predictably, caroms toward calamity yet drags along enough hilarity to be entertaining. With a little help from best friend Mae (light-skinned with dark hair), the catastrophe turns into a lucrative dog-washing business. Busy Betty is once again ready to rush off to the next big thing. Yan uses vivid, pastel colors for a spread of a group of diverse kids bringing their dogs to be washed, helping out, and having fun, while the grown-ups are muted and relegated to the background. Extreme angles in several of the illustrations effectively convey a sense of perpetual motion and heighten the story’s tension, drawing readers in. An especially effective, glitter-strewn spread portrays Frank looming large and seemingly running off the page while Betty looks on, stricken at the ensuing mess. Though it’s a familiar and easily resolved story, Witherspoon’s rollicking text never holds back, replete with amusing phrases such as “sweet cinnamon biscuits,” “bouncing biscuits,” and “busted biscuits.” As Betty says, “Being busy is a great way to be.” Young readers are sure to agree. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

An entertaining, if light, addition to the growing shelf of celebrity-authored picture books. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 4, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-46588-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Flamingo Books

Review Posted Online: July 13, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2022

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Desperation confused for hysterics.

IF YOU LAUGH, I'M STARTING THIS BOOK OVER

Harris’ latest makes an urgent plea for somber reflection.

“Stop! Stop!! Stop!!!” Right from the get-go, readers are presented with three rules for reading this book (“Don’t look at this book!” “Do look at your listener!” “Get your listener to look at you!”). But the true lesson is in the title itself: If anyone listening to this book laughs, you have to start it all over. Challenge accepted? Good. Sheer frenetic energy propels what passes for a narrative as the book uses every trick up its sleeve to give kids the giggles. Silly names, ridiculous premises, and kooky art combine, all attempting some level of hilarity. Bloch’s art provides a visual cacophony of collaged elements, all jostling for the audience’s attention. Heavily influenced by similar fourth wall–busting titles like The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales (1992) by Jon Scieszka, illustrated by Lane Smith, and the more contemporary The Book With No Pictures (2014) by B.J. Novak, these attempts to win over readers and make them laugh will result in less giggles than one might imagine. In the end, the ultimate success of this book may rest less on the art or text and more on the strength of the reader’s presentation. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Desperation confused for hysterics. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 27, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-316-42488-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: June 8, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2022

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