A quiet book for the preschool nature shelf.

TREE SONG

Rhyming text follows the life cycle of one acorn, from tiny sprout to crashing, fecund ancient oak.

Hushhhhhhhhhhhh warns wind and whirls seed down. / Seed lies, silent, on the ground.” Initially, the acorn is known generically as “seed,” but there can be no mistaking its photorealistic appearance—an interesting contrast against what appear to be computer-generated collages of the four seasons. Cartoonlike woodland creatures and ethnically diverse humans round out the brightly colored art. “Seed” waits quietly during fall and winter, escaping the attentions of hungry birds more than once, until it sprouts and sings its “tree-tra-la” near the bottom of a leafy green oak tree. Now it is referred to as “tree” instead of “seed.” As the tree grows, seasons come and go, and animals and humans enjoy their lives around it: They dance in its bright leaves; snowshoe around it; hold picnics; read in its shade. The illustrations make full use of different times of day, varying weather, and the underground homes of animals—all contributing to the richness surrounding the tree’s life. The idea of the tree as sentient and singing pervades the gentle near rhymes, and some little ones may become so attached they react with fear and sadness when the ancient oak finally lies silent. Fortunately, as with other mildly scary parts, soothing words and imagery follow.

A quiet book for the preschool nature shelf. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: April 10, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-77321-001-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Annick Press

Review Posted Online: Feb. 4, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2018

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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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A sweet, simple story with a nicely offbeat heroine.

THE FRIEND SHIP

All the animals are welcome to come aboard.

Hedgehog seems very lonely, “curled up in a prickly little ball in a lonely little nook of a lonely little tree.” When she overhears a sympathetic conversation about friendship “out there,” she perks up, picturing a beautiful “Friend Ship.” Hedgehog sets sail with a curious beaver in a small boat to find it. Before long, the duo spots a herd of migrating deer on the shore. Hedgehog asks if they’ve seen the Friend Ship; all reply that they could use a friend and hop aboard. Next, the company spies a rat, who asks to join them. They sail in multiple directions to no avail. Hedgehog begins to lose hope, but her companions convince her to persist. She spots a small island, its only resident an elephant. Hedgehog swims the distance and asks the elephant about the Friend Ship. The elephant points at Hedgehog’s small boat full of animals and asks, “Isn’t that it—right over there?” It’s a lightning-bolt moment. Hedgehog invites the elephant aboard, and they sail west, celebrating all the while…into the sunset together. Yeh makes effective use of dialogue and repetition, investing her characters with personality with just a few lines. Groenink employs sunny, warm hues that increase in saturation as the boat fills and Hedgehog becomes surrounded by friends.

A sweet, simple story with a nicely offbeat heroine. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Dec. 6, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4847-0726-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Oct. 11, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2016

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