Don’t bother putting this one under the tree.

THE TWELVE UNICORNS OF CHRISTMAS

If you give a kid a unicorn, Christmas chaos ensues.

Although clearly inspired by the carol “The Twelve Days of Christmas,” the text largely eschews the song’s cadence, not to mention any real attempt at cumulative structure. The result is a merry mess of a picture book without much to recommend it to anyone except the most die-hard unicorn fan. The text is ostensibly written in the voice of a child narrator: “On the first day of Christmas, / my parents gave to me… / 1 sparkling Christmas tree! / And a real-life UNICORN!” The text proceeds to count up through the 12 days of Christmas to list various things and people who make appearances, often interacting with the unicorn. There is no obvious rhyme or reason to the order, and at the book’s end Santa brings another 11 unicorns to make the solitary one who showed up on the first day feel better. (It had sneezed glitter on the 10th day, which apparently was a symptom of loneliness for its kind?) The cartoony art is perhaps stronger than the haphazard text, but it doesn’t succeed in magically transforming the book into one worth gifting. The narrator and most other people, including Santa, appear White in the illustrations. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10.8-by-19.2-inch double-page spreads viewed at 27.7% of actual size.)

Don’t bother putting this one under the tree. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5344-8019-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Aladdin

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2020

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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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