Although the landscapes Savage creates are highly stylized, they have a softness and gentle humor that will capture the...

TEN ORANGE PUMPKINS

A COUNTING BOOK

In this strong graphic treatment of a traditional theme, 10 Halloween pumpkins are spirited away or destroyed one by one by various seasonally appropriate, sometimes-scary entities: a scarecrow, a mummy, a bolt of lightning, a hungry ghost, alligators in a pond, pirates (“Arrr!”), an owl, a witch and a spider.

In a visual style reminiscent of 1950s horror tales, Savage creates a highly dramatic and sensational sequence using strong color contrasts, including, of course, Halloween orange and black. Homely scenes of country life—fields, clothes on a line, a spooky mansion, a stormy churchyard—and more exotic ones—a witch’s kitchen, pirate skeletons on a stormy ocean—are all rendered in a strong, airbrushed graphic style. While the overall mood is scary and grotesque, there are light touches in several features, including the cat that appears on every spread, the alligators that morph from rock look-alikes to snapping monsters that consume the pumpkin, the mummy who mummifies a pumpkin and the doughboy ghost who makes a pumpkin into pie. The simple rhymes of the countdown have a sweetly repetitive nursery-rhyme quality, and they will help to reassure children who may be a little apprehensive about Halloween, as well as aiding counting and subtraction skills.

Although the landscapes Savage creates are highly stylized, they have a softness and gentle humor that will capture the imaginations of young children and add to their anticipation. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Aug. 29, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-8037-3938-3

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 21, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2013

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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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Skip this well-meaning but poorly executed celebration.

I LOVE DADDY EVERY DAY

Children point out the things they love about their fathers.

“Daddy is always kind. He gives us support and shelter when things go wrong.” A child with a skinned knee (and downed ice cream cone) gets a bandage and loving pat from Daddy (no shelter is visible, but the child’s concerned sibling sweetly extends their own cone). Daddy’s a storyteller, a magician, supportive, loyal, silly, patient, and he knows everything. A die-cut hole pierces most pages, positioned so that the increasingly smaller holes to come can be seen through it; what it represents in each scene varies, and it does so with also-variable success. The bland, nonrhyming, inconsistent text does little to attract or keep attention, though the die cuts might (until they fall victim to curious fingers). The text also confusingly mixes first-person singular and plural, sometimes on the same page: “Daddy is like a gardener. He lovingly cares for us and watches us grow. I’m his pride and joy!” Even as the text mixes number the illustrations mix metaphors. This particular gardener daddy is pictured shampooing a child during bathtime. Más’ cartoon illustrations are sweet if murkily interpretive, affection clearly conveyed. Troublingly, though, each father and his child(ren) seem to share the same racial presentation and hair color (sometimes even hairstyle!), shutting out many different family constellations. Más does, however, portray several disabilities: children and adults wearing glasses, a child with a cochlear implant, and another using a wheelchair.

Skip this well-meaning but poorly executed celebration. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: March 24, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-12305-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Rodale Kids

Review Posted Online: March 18, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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