LOOKING DOWN

Torn- and cut-paper collage pictures without words begin with a view of the earth from distant outer space and, with each turn of the page, zoom in toward the planet. Readers see the earth from the moon; moving down into the atmosphere, the North American coastline comes into view. That becomes an aerial view of a landscapemountains, rivers, fields, and a town. The approach to a town is shown in a series of rather realistic images that look like photographs taken from the window of an airplane coming in for a landing. Each picture represents the enlargement of a portion of the previous picture, seeming to click in closer so that new details appear each time, but their location can be traced back through the preceding pages; this process makes readers pause again and again to examine the illustrations more closely. Finally, a group of houses gives way to one house, in front of which a boy kneels, scrutinizing a ladybug through a magnifying glass. A huge close-up of the insect is the last picture in the book. The illustrations have been honed to map-like precision; reading this book forces an understanding of how different maps fit together. As with Banyai's Zoom (p. 220) and Re-Zoom (see review, above), Jenkins's original idea may have been to hurtle viewers in the direction he chose (in this case, ever closer to the scene), but the book reads equally well backwards. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-395-72665-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1995

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THIS BOOK IS GRAY

A gray character tries to write an all-gray book.

The six primary and secondary colors are building a rainbow, each contributing the hue of their own body, and Gray feels forlorn and left out because rainbows contain no gray. So Gray—who, like the other characters, has a solid, triangular body, a doodle-style face, and stick limbs—sets off alone to create “the GRAYest book ever.” His book inside a book shows a peaceful gray cliff house near a gray sea with gentle whitecaps; his three gray characters—hippo, wolf, kitten—wait for their arc to begin. But then the primaries arrive and call the gray scene “dismal, bleak, and gloomy.” The secondaries show up too, and soon everyone’s overrunning Gray’s creation. When Gray refuses to let White and Black participate, astute readers will note the flaw: White and black (the colors) had already been included in the early all-gray spreads. Ironically, Gray’s book within a book displays calm, passable art while the metabook’s unsubtle illustrations and sloppy design make for cramped and crowded pages that are too busy to hold visual focus. The speech-bubble dialogue’s snappy enough (Blue calls people “dude,” and there are puns). A convoluted moral muddles the core artistic question—whether a whole book can be gray—and instead highlights a trite message about working together.

Low grade. (glossary) (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5420-4340-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Two Lions

Review Posted Online: July 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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Between its autumn and field-trip themes and the fact that not many books start countdowns from 20, this may find its way to...

PUMPKIN COUNTDOWN

A class visits the pumpkin patch, giving readers a chance to count down from 20.

At the farm, Farmer Mixenmatch gives them the tour, which includes a petting zoo, an educational area, a corn maze and a tractor ride to the pumpkin patch. Holub’s text cleverly though not always successfully rhymes each child’s name within the line: “ ‘Eighteen kids get on our bus,’ says Russ. / ‘But someone’s late,’ says Kate. / ‘Wait for me!’ calls Kiri.” Pumpkins at the tops of pages contain the numerals that match the text, allowing readers to pair them with the orange-colored, spelled-out numbers. Some of the objects proffered to count are a bit of a stretch—“Guess sixteen things we’ll see,” count 14 cars that arrived at the farm before the bus—but Smith’s artwork keeps things easy to count, except for a challenging page that asks readers to search for 17 orange items (answers are at the bottom, upside down). Strangely, Holub includes one page with nothing to count—a sign marks “15 Pumpkin Street.” Charming, multicultural round-faced characters and lots of detail encourage readers to go back through the book scouring pages for the 16 things the kids guessed they might see. Endpapers featuring a smattering of pumpkin facts round out the text.

Between its autumn and field-trip themes and the fact that not many books start countdowns from 20, this may find its way to many library shelves. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: July 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-8075-6660-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Whitman

Review Posted Online: May 16, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2012

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