Pretty enough but perhaps a little self-indulgent.

READ REVIEW

THE OTHER COLORS

AN ABC BOOK

A small, square art project of a volume, attractive and even lovely, but probably not for children at all.

This is an alphabet book. Each opening has a huge letter facing a photograph, and under the letter, a description of half a dozen words or so describes the image. The “alliterations,” as the text is called, all begin with an unusual color name—the titular “other colors”—that describes the background and the object pictured; each word begins with the same letter—no exceptions. Some of these words are easily assimilated: “Azure abalones always attract adoring admirers” places the variegated abalone shell on a bed of azure with glassy spheres around it. There’s ecru, mauve, periwinkle and wisteria, among others, each with an artistically manipulated photograph. The image is fancifully saturated with the color, as “Harlequin hedgehogs” (it’s a shade of green, at least according to the book) match their grassy landscape. “Byzantine” is a deep berry color, and “Fandango” is a deep pink. None of these colors is defined except by the images, so it is hard to know how true they are, and some of the lettering on the paler colors disappears entirely. Reading the words aloud is fun, but the whole is more like an artist’s book than an abecedary for children.

Pretty enough but perhaps a little self-indulgent. (Picture book. 4-8, adult)

Pub Date: April 9, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-62087-537-7

Page Count: 56

Publisher: Sky Pony Press

Review Posted Online: Feb. 27, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2013

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Haphazard but jolly enough for one outing; it probably won’t last for more.

THE CRAYONS' CHRISTMAS

From the Creative Creature Catcher series

A flurry of mail addressed to Duncan’s crayons ushers in the Christmas season in this novelty spinoff of the bestselling The Day the Crayons Quit (2013) and The Day the Crayons Came Home (2015).

Actual cards and letters are tucked into envelopelike pouches pasted to the pages; these are joined in some cases by other ephemera for a package that is likely to invite sudden, intense play followed by loss and/or damage that will render the book a disappointment to reread. That’s probably OK, as in contrast to the clever story that kicked this small series off, this outing has a hastily composed feel that lacks cohesion. The first letter is addressed to Peach from Mom and includes a paper doll of the “naked” (de-wrappered) crayon along with a selection of tabbed changes of clothing that includes a top hat and tails and a bikini top and bottom. Peach’s implied gender fluidity does not mitigate the unfortunate association of peach with skin color established in the first book. The sense of narrative improvisation is cemented with an early page turn that takes the crayons from outdoors snow play to “Feeling…suddenly very Christmas-y, the crayons headed inside.” Readers can unpack a box of punch-out decorations; a recipe for gluten-free Christmas cookies that begins “go to store and buy gluten-free cookies”; a punch-out dreidel (turns out Grey is Jewish); a board game (“six-sided die” not included); and a map of Esteban (aka Pea Green) and Neon Red’s travels with Santa.

Haphazard but jolly enough for one outing; it probably won’t last for more. (Novelty. 4-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-51574-6

Page Count: 52

Publisher: Penguin Workshop

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2019

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A welcome addition to autumnal storytelling—and to tales of traditional enemies overcoming their history.

THE SCARECROW

Ferry and the Fans portray a popular seasonal character’s unlikely friendship.

Initially, the protagonist is shown in his solitary world: “Scarecrow stands alone and scares / the fox and deer, / the mice and crows. / It’s all he does. It’s all he knows.” His presence is effective; the animals stay outside the fenced-in fields, but the omniscient narrator laments the character’s lack of friends or places to go. Everything changes when a baby crow falls nearby. Breaking his pole so he can bend, the scarecrow picks it up, placing the creature in the bib of his overalls while singing a lullaby. Both abandon natural tendencies until the crow learns to fly—and thus departs. The aabb rhyme scheme flows reasonably well, propelling the narrative through fall, winter, and spring, when the mature crow returns with a mate to build a nest in the overalls bib that once was his home. The Fan brothers capture the emotional tenor of the seasons and the main character in their panoramic pencil, ballpoint, and digital compositions. Particularly poignant is the close-up of the scarecrow’s burlap face, his stitched mouth and leaf-rimmed head conveying such sadness after his companion goes. Some adults may wonder why the scarecrow seems to have only partial agency, but children will be tuned into the problem, gratified by the resolution.

A welcome addition to autumnal storytelling—and to tales of traditional enemies overcoming their history. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-247576-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2019

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