FARMER PALMER'S WAGON RIDE

As overalled, suspendered Farmer Palmer is a pig, there's no reason why the ass he hitches to his wagon shouldn't be introduced as Ebenezer, his "hired hand," or why the two shouldn't chat on their way to market — except perhaps that Farmer Palmer is clothed in the picture-book convention of human animals and the ass isn't. Still Ebenezer's status as an employee does make his function as a beast of burden a little disconcerting, so that the mishaps that occur on the way home come as something of a relief. First, "Thunder rumbled and rambled" and "dramberamberoomed and bomBOMBED!" and a lightning-struck tree falls on the wagon. ("No one will ever believe this," says Ebenezer as he sets up tripod and camera for a photo of the pig chopping his way out with an ax.) Then Ebenezer sprains his hock so that Farmer Palmer has to hitch himself up and pull, and after a "bib-bibbidy-rib-ribbidy-rip" of a flying wheel, the farmer pedals the hired hand home on an overstrained bicycle built for one. Steig's unflappably matter-of-fact tone goes false only once (as the tree descends on pig and ass, "both realized they would rather not die at that particular time"), and though this lacks the expansive warmth of his previous picture books, the cumbersome maneuvers of this ludicrous duo bring some mild, mock-rustic diversion to the artist's usual bracing, sunny countryside.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1974

ISBN: 0374422680

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 10, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 1974

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Inspiration, shrink wrapped.

WHAT THE ROAD SAID

From an artist, poet, and Instagram celebrity, a pep talk for all who question where a new road might lead.

Opening by asking readers, “Have you ever wanted to go in a different direction,” the unnamed narrator describes having such a feeling and then witnessing the appearance of a new road “almost as if it were magic.” “Where do you lead?” the narrator asks. The Road’s twice-iterated response—“Be a leader and find out”—bookends a dialogue in which a traveler’s anxieties are answered by platitudes. “What if I fall?” worries the narrator in a stylized, faux hand-lettered type Wade’s Instagram followers will recognize. The Road’s dialogue and the narration are set in a chunky, sans-serif type with no quotation marks, so the one flows into the other confusingly. “Everyone falls at some point, said the Road. / But I will always be there when you land.” Narrator: “What if the world around us is filled with hate?” Road: “Lead it to love.” Narrator: “What if I feel stuck?” Road: “Keep going.” De Moyencourt illustrates this colloquy with luminous scenes of a small, brown-skinned child, face turned away from viewers so all they see is a mop of blond curls. The child steps into an urban mural, walks along a winding country road through broad rural landscapes and scary woods, climbs a rugged metaphorical mountain, then comes to stand at last, Little Prince–like, on a tiny blue and green planet. Wade’s closing claim that her message isn’t meant just for children is likely superfluous…in fact, forget the just.

Inspiration, shrink wrapped. (Picture book. 6-8, adult)

Pub Date: March 23, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-26949-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Review Posted Online: April 8, 2021

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Wonderful, indeed

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THE WONDERFUL THINGS YOU WILL BE

A GROWING-UP POEM

A love song to baby with delightful illustrations to boot.

Sweet but not saccharine and singsong but not forced, Martin’s text is one that will invite rereadings as it affirms parental wishes for children while admirably keeping child readers at its heart. The lines that read “This is the first time / There’s ever been you, / So I wonder what wonderful things / You will do” capture the essence of the picture book and are accompanied by a diverse group of babies and toddlers clad in downright adorable outfits. Other spreads include older kids, too, and pictures expand on the open text to visually interpret the myriad possibilities and hopes for the depicted children. For example, a spread reading “Will you learn how to fly / To find the best view?” shows a bespectacled, school-aged girl on a swing soaring through an empty white background. This is just one spread in which Martin’s fearless embrace of the white of the page serves her well. Throughout the book, she maintains a keen balance of layout choices, and surprising details—zebras on the wallpaper behind a father cradling his child, a rock-’n’-roll band of mice paralleling the children’s own band called “The Missing Teeth”—add visual interest and gentle humor. An ideal title for the baby-shower gift bag and for any nursery bookshelf or lap-sit storytime.

Wonderful, indeed . (Picture book. 1-4)

Pub Date: Aug. 25, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-37671-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: June 6, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2015

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