Now: good to book. Just three rungs up (good, goon, boon, book) and well-worth the climb.

BOY MEETS DOG

A WORD GAME ADVENTURE

Wyatt introduces kids to word ladders, in which a starting word leads step by step, by the substitution of one letter at a time, to a final word.

Lewis Carroll, who came up with lots of good word games, invented one called “doublets,” in which you took a word and changed one letter at a time to arrive at another word, often an opposite; for instance, push to pull: push, hush, husk, hulk, hull, pull. Easy peasy. Rain to snow, in eight moves. It’s a bit like chess, and it can be just as exasperating and invigorating. OK, here you go: rain, raid, said, slid, slip, ship, shop, show, snow. But you knew that, right? Almost any introduction to this word game is worth the entrance fee, and this one passes the mark easily. The artwork deftly and colorfully borrows from conventions of animation to provide two-page scenes that carry readers on each word journey, and there is a little narrative twist at the end, about whether or not a character is real or just a toy (boy into toy), which forces readers to stake a grasp on reality as they twist and turn these words into those words. A note at the end should set readers, both adults and kids, on their way to making their own word ladders.

Now: good to book. Just three rungs up (good, goon, boon, book) and well-worth the climb. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-55453-824-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Kids Can

Review Posted Online: June 8, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2013

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As ephemeral as a valentine.

LOVE FROM THE CRAYONS

Daywalt and Jeffers’ wandering crayons explore love.

Each double-page spread offers readers a vision of one of the anthropomorphic crayons on the left along with the statement “Love is [color].” The word love is represented by a small heart in the appropriate color. Opposite, childlike crayon drawings explain how that color represents love. So, readers learn, “love is green. / Because love is helpful.” The accompanying crayon drawing depicts two alligators, one holding a recycling bin and the other tossing a plastic cup into it, offering readers two ways of understanding green. Some statements are thought-provoking: “Love is white. / Because sometimes love is hard to see,” reaches beyond the immediate image of a cat’s yellow eyes, pink nose, and black mouth and whiskers, its white face and body indistinguishable from the paper it’s drawn on, to prompt real questions. “Love is brown. / Because sometimes love stinks,” on the other hand, depicted by a brown bear standing next to a brown, squiggly turd, may provoke giggles but is fundamentally a cheap laugh. Some of the color assignments have a distinctly arbitrary feel: Why is purple associated with the imagination and pink with silliness? Fans of The Day the Crayons Quit (2013) hoping for more clever, metaliterary fun will be disappointed by this rather syrupy read.

As ephemeral as a valentine. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Dec. 24, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5247-9268-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Penguin Workshop

Review Posted Online: Feb. 2, 2021

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Between its autumn and field-trip themes and the fact that not many books start countdowns from 20, this may find its way to...

PUMPKIN COUNTDOWN

A class visits the pumpkin patch, giving readers a chance to count down from 20.

At the farm, Farmer Mixenmatch gives them the tour, which includes a petting zoo, an educational area, a corn maze and a tractor ride to the pumpkin patch. Holub’s text cleverly though not always successfully rhymes each child’s name within the line: “ ‘Eighteen kids get on our bus,’ says Russ. / ‘But someone’s late,’ says Kate. / ‘Wait for me!’ calls Kiri.” Pumpkins at the tops of pages contain the numerals that match the text, allowing readers to pair them with the orange-colored, spelled-out numbers. Some of the objects proffered to count are a bit of a stretch—“Guess sixteen things we’ll see,” count 14 cars that arrived at the farm before the bus—but Smith’s artwork keeps things easy to count, except for a challenging page that asks readers to search for 17 orange items (answers are at the bottom, upside down). Strangely, Holub includes one page with nothing to count—a sign marks “15 Pumpkin Street.” Charming, multicultural round-faced characters and lots of detail encourage readers to go back through the book scouring pages for the 16 things the kids guessed they might see. Endpapers featuring a smattering of pumpkin facts round out the text.

Between its autumn and field-trip themes and the fact that not many books start countdowns from 20, this may find its way to many library shelves. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: July 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-8075-6660-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Whitman

Review Posted Online: May 16, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2012

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