Not nearly so engaging as its subject, alas.

THE DANCING CLOCK

The fabulous musical Delacorte clock in Central Park in New York City is the subject of a snow monkey’s devotion, told in rhymed couplets.

Milo the snow monkey loves to watch and listen to the clock, on which two monkeys ring a bell and animals circle—the bear with a tambourine, the elephant with a squeezebox accordion, the hippo with the fiddle. He wants to join their dance. One day, the zookeeper leaves a gate unlocked, and Milo leaps out to sit on the bell with the monkeys and then dance with each animal figure in turn. The crowds cheer. But then Milo realizes it is cold up there, and there’s no food. Fortuitously, the zookeeper comes by, a well-placed nut toss attracts her attention and Milo is back with his buddies, “A clock can be special, but not like a friend!” It is clear from the falling russet leaves that this is autumn. Curiously, most of the brightly clad figures look more French than East Coast urban. There are hats on most of the adults and many of the children; there are scarves and hair ribbons galore on the big-eyed, sharp-nosed gentry in their plaids and polka-dots. The verse chugs along, thwacking its rhymes as it goes, which can be irritating or satisfying depending on readers’ tastes. A note “About the Dancing Clock” offers a bit more information.

Not nearly so engaging as its subject, alas. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-58925-100-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Tiger Tales

Review Posted Online: July 20, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2011

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It’s a bit hard to dance, or count, to this beat.

ONE MORE DINO ON THE FLOOR

Dinos that love to move and groove get children counting from one to 10—and perhaps moving to the beat.

Beginning with a solo bop by a female dino (she has eyelashes, doncha know), the dinosaur dance party begins. Each turn of the page adds another dino and a change in the dance genre: waltz, country line dancing, disco, limbo, square dancing, hip-hop, and swing. As the party would be incomplete without the moonwalk, the T. Rex does the honors…and once they are beyond their initial panic at his appearance, the onlookers cheer wildly. The repeated refrain on each spread allows for audience participation, though it doesn’t easily trip off the tongue: “They hear a swish. / What’s this? / One more? / One more dino on the floor.” Some of the prehistoric beasts are easily identifiable—pterodactyl, ankylosaurus, triceratops—but others will be known only to the dino-obsessed; none are identified, other than T-Rex. Packed spreads filled with psychedelically colored dinos sporting blocks of color, stripes, or polka dots (and infectious looks of joy) make identification even more difficult, to say nothing of counting them. Indeed, this fails as a counting primer: there are extra animals (and sometimes a grumpy T-Rex) in the backgrounds, and the next dino to join the party pokes its head into the frame on the page before. Besides all that, most kids won’t get the dance references.

It’s a bit hard to dance, or count, to this beat. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: March 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-8075-1598-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Whitman

Review Posted Online: Jan. 20, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2016

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Though Penguin doesn’t discover any of his own true talents, young listeners will probably empathize with wanting something...

FLIGHT SCHOOL

From the Flight School series

A small round penguin with lofty aspirations finds success of a sort in a sweet, if slight, appreciation of the resourcefulness of teachers.

The sign near a cluster of wooden pilings in the middle of the water reads “FLIGHT SCHOOL / WE TEACH BIRDS TO FLY.” “I was hatched to fly,” announces Penguin upon his arrival from the South Pole. “I have the soul of an eagle,” he assures the gently dubious Teacher. “Penguin and the other birdies practiced for weeks,” but he succeeds only in plunging into the ocean—not terribly gracefully. He is ready to give up when a solution devised by Teacher and Flamingo has Penguin flying, if only for a few moments, and his happiness at this one-time achievement is lasting. Judge’s edge-to-edge watercolor-and-pencil art is lively and amusing. Her various sea and shore birds—gulls, a pelican, a heron and a small owl among them—and their fledglings are just a little scruffy, and they are exaggeratedly, expressively funny in their anthropomorphic roles as teachers and students. Background shades of warm yellow, sea blue and green, and brown sand let the friendly, silly faces and bodies of the birds take center stage.

Though Penguin doesn’t discover any of his own true talents, young listeners will probably empathize with wanting something so far out of reach. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: April 15, 2014

ISBN: 978-14424-8177-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: Feb. 5, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2014

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