A quiet book for the preschool nature shelf.

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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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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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