Morgand’s silk-screen illustrations are lively and colorful, but ambiguities and mistakes seriously detract from the value...

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3, 2, 1, GO!

All kinds of animals are eagerly taking part in an Olympics-style athletic competition in this French import.

Numbers counting up from one to 20 and back down from 20 to one are shown, one Arabic numeral plus simple text on each page. Each animal is portrayed doing what they do best: The big cats jump over “3 hurdles” while running between “4 white lines”; the kangaroo does the high jump (landing on “5 crash mats”); the seals do gymnastics (using “7 rings”); and “8 monkeys” bounce on a trampoline. A bear lifts “9 weights”; crocodiles swim in a pool marked by “13 white lane floats” and “14 red lane floats”; a fox plays tennis (accessorized with “16 spare sweatbands”). Onlookers wear “17 pairs of sunglasses” and eat “18 tubs of popcorn” (one elephant does without shades). No. 19 (a ball-playing rabbit) is injured, and the cat referee calls a 20-minute break. Counting down is similarly handled. Whereas many books in this genre illustrate the number of items represented by the number, this book sometimes uses abstract concepts: “2 blows on the whistle,” and “a perfect score! 10”; 19 is given similarly short shrift (represented twice by the bunny’s jersey number). More seriously, there are some miscounts, notably “3 hurdles” (there appear to be five) and “17 empty water bottles” (there are 18).

Morgand’s silk-screen illustrations are lively and colorful, but ambiguities and mistakes seriously detract from the value of this book as an educational tool. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: May 22, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-500-65154-4

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Thames & Hudson

Review Posted Online: March 4, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2018

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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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Watching unlikely friends finally be as “happy as two someones can be” feels like being enveloped in your very own hug.

THE HUG

What to do when you’re a prickly animal hankering for a hug? Why, find another misfit animal also searching for an embrace!

Sweet but “tricky to hug” little Hedgehog is down in the dumps. Wandering the forest, Hedgehog begs different animals for hugs, but each rejects them. Readers will giggle at their panicked excuses—an evasive squirrel must suddenly count its three measly acorns; a magpie begins a drawn-out song—but will also be indignant on poor hedgehog’s behalf. Hedgehog has the appealingly pink-cheeked softness typical of Dunbar’s art, and the gentle watercolors are nonthreatening, though she also captures the animals’ genuine concern about being poked. A wise owl counsels the dejected hedgehog that while the prickles may frighten some, “there’s someone for everyone.” That’s when Hedgehog spots a similarly lonely tortoise, rejected due to its “very hard” shell but perfectly matched for a spiky new friend. They race toward each other until the glorious meeting, marked with swoony peach swirls and overjoyed grins. At this point, readers flip the book to hear the same gloomy tale from the tortoise’s perspective until it again culminates in that joyous hug, a book turn that’s made a pleasure with thick creamy paper and solid binding.

Watching unlikely friends finally be as “happy as two someones can be” feels like being enveloped in your very own hug. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: April 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-571-34875-6

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Faber & Faber

Review Posted Online: Jan. 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2019

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