Unabashedly artsy and sure to enjoy a long stay on the read-again shelf.


From the I Like To Read series

In this seek-and-find story aimed at children beginning their reading journey, readers follow a young boy and his dog as they search for naughty, elusive puppies.

An artistic boy who is the namesake of Britain’s famous Tate art gallery leaves home and walks to a museum with his rainbow-hued poodle, Pup, in tow. As they enter the museum, Pup notices five poodle pups, each a different color, trailing them. Once inside, the little whelps promptly blend into the elaborate exhibits. While Pup relentlessly searches for them with binoculars, Tate draws dinosaurs, planets, and butterflies in his sketchbook. Each time he draws, the text challenges readers to find the hidden pups in his crowded artwork. On the way home, Pup is gloomy, uncertain as to the puppies’ fates. Children and adults alike will smile at the happy ending. This leveled reader uses predictable and repetitive text with sight words, but there is just enough variety in the sentences to support the amusing narrative. The illustrations, created with black gesso, ink, graphite, colored pencil, and watercolor, are the real centerpiece. Kirsch is just as adept at rendering the colorful museum exhibits as the grayscale, childlike drawings in Tate’s sketchbook. Young readers will find the fun Where’s Waldo?–element of this story hard to resist. Tate and the only other human character, a museum docent, are both White.

Unabashedly artsy and sure to enjoy a long stay on the read-again shelf. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Jan. 11, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-8234-4605-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: Nov. 16, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2021

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As ephemeral as a valentine.


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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A gray character tries to write an all-gray book.

The six primary and secondary colors are building a rainbow, each contributing the hue of their own body, and Gray feels forlorn and left out because rainbows contain no gray. So Gray—who, like the other characters, has a solid, triangular body, a doodle-style face, and stick limbs—sets off alone to create “the GRAYest book ever.” His book inside a book shows a peaceful gray cliff house near a gray sea with gentle whitecaps; his three gray characters—hippo, wolf, kitten—wait for their arc to begin. But then the primaries arrive and call the gray scene “dismal, bleak, and gloomy.” The secondaries show up too, and soon everyone’s overrunning Gray’s creation. When Gray refuses to let White and Black participate, astute readers will note the flaw: White and black (the colors) had already been included in the early all-gray spreads. Ironically, Gray’s book within a book displays calm, passable art while the metabook’s unsubtle illustrations and sloppy design make for cramped and crowded pages that are too busy to hold visual focus. The speech-bubble dialogue’s snappy enough (Blue calls people “dude,” and there are puns). A convoluted moral muddles the core artistic question—whether a whole book can be gray—and instead highlights a trite message about working together.

Low grade. (glossary) (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5420-4340-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Two Lions

Review Posted Online: July 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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