Cheerful, if not exactly essential, fun.  (Picture book. 2-6)

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EVERYTHING I NEED TO KNOW BEFORE I'M FIVE

Fisher packs a lot—if not exactly everything, or perhaps not even some of the most important things—into this compendium of basic concepts for young children: letters, numbers up to 20, colors, shapes, opposites, seasons.

The title indulges in a bit of hyperbole, perhaps as a lure to a certain kind of nervous but ambitious parent. Small toys, objects and plastic dolls are lined up, combined or used to create clever tableaus to photographically illustrate each concept. Mixing colors, for instance, employs plastic ducks in various shades to demonstrate the result of color combinations. The superb clarity and rich, saturated colors of these photos create page openings that are nearly startling in their brightness. While the people figures are nicely retro with their bland, naive faces, there’s little diversity demonstrated or implied. And the collection of concepts misses a bet in another important way: For all the charming silliness going on in many of these miniature scenes, others seem static. It’s funny to see tiny figures in aprons and hair buns cleaning up an enormous ladybug, but literal-minded young readers will search the image in vain to find any of those abstract essential concepts (being a friend, taking care of the earth, asking for help) one ought to know before age five.

Cheerful, if not exactly essential, fun.  (Picture book. 2-6)

Pub Date: July 26, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-375-86865-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Schwartz & Wade/Random

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2011

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It’s sweet, but it thematically (and eponymously) replicates Dan Pinto and Benn Sutton’s Hedgehug (2011)—with much less verve

HEDGEHUGS

How do you hug if you’re a hedgehog?

Horace and Hattie are best friends who like to spend time together making daisy chains, splashing in puddles, and having tea parties. But they are OK doing things on their own, too: Hattie dances in the bluebells, while Horace searches the woods for spiders. But no matter what they do, together or apart, there’s one thing that they’ve found impossible: hugging. Each season, they try something new that will enable them to cushion their spines and snuggle up. Snow hugs are too cold, hollow-log hugs are too bumpy, strawberry hugs are too sticky, and autumn-leaf hugs are too scratchy. But a chance encounter with some laundry drying on a line may hold the answer to their problem—as well as to the universal mystery of lost socks. Tapper’s illustrations are a mix of what appears to be digital elements and photographed textures from scraps of baby clothes. While the latter provide pleasing textures, the hedgehogs are rendered digitally. Though cute, they are rather stiff and, well, spiky. Also, the typeface choice unfortunately makes the D in “hedgehug” look like a fancy lowercase A, especially to those still working on their reading skills.

It’s sweet, but it thematically (and eponymously) replicates Dan Pinto and Benn Sutton’s Hedgehug (2011)—with much less verve . (Picture book. 2-5)

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-62779-404-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Sept. 21, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2015

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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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