WHAT IF...?

“A child sat on his island, looking out at the world and thinking.”

He sees a world full of miseries: war, famine, hegemony, pollution, and sorrow. For each, he imagines a transformation: “What if we lasso the clouds and bring rain to the desert?...What if we wash [the ocean] clean?” In Tallec’s painterly scenes, the child is defined by swift pencil lines, the only color to him his red cheeks and pants—the rest is white. He is placed on negative space, swaths or spots of white that share the spreads with the painted depictions of destruction and evil. It’s a novel visual approach to a familiar theme, subverting what readers may expect by making the reality appear more concrete than the possibility and mostly leaving the what-if’s in readers’ imaginations. Some spreads are at once more pointed and more obscure than others: When the child sees “the powerful gorging, ordering, shouting, and decreeing,” he stands in front of a TV set tuned to a smug-looking politician and thinks, “We have to open their eyes or drive them out.” Open the eyes of the two people watching from the couch? Drive out the powerful? Exactly who those pronouns refer to can spawn a conversation all by itself. At the end, readers learn why the child appears so ephemeral: He doesn’t yet exist but has decided he has the resolve to be born.

Sobering and provocative . (Picture book. 5-10)

Pub Date: April 30, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-59270-281-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Enchanted Lion Books

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2019

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Doubles down on a basic math concept with a bit of character development.

DOUBLE PUPPY TROUBLE

From the McKellar Math series

A child who insists on having MORE of everything gets MORE than she can handle.

Demanding young Moxie Jo is delighted to discover that pushing the button on a stick she finds in the yard doubles anything she points to. Unfortunately, when she points to her puppy, Max, the button gets stuck—and in no time one dog has become two, then four, then eight, then….Readers familiar with the “Sorcerer’s Apprentice” or Tomie dePaola’s Strega Nona will know how this is going to go, and Masse obliges by filling up succeeding scenes with burgeoning hordes of cute yellow puppies enthusiastically making a shambles of the house. McKellar puts an arithmetical spin on the crisis—“The number of pups exponentially grew: / They each multiplied times a factor of 2!” When clumsy little brother Clark inadvertently intervenes, Moxie Jo is left wiser about her real needs (mostly). An appended section uses lemons to show how exponential doubling quickly leads to really big numbers. Stuart J. Murphy’s Double the Ducks (illustrated by Valeria Petrone, 2002) in the MathStart series explores doubling from a broader perspective and includes more backmatter to encourage further study, but this outing adds some messaging: Moxie Jo’s change of perspective may give children with sharing issues food for thought. She and her family are White; her friends are racially diverse. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Doubles down on a basic math concept with a bit of character development. (Informational picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: July 26, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-101-93386-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: March 30, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2022

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The dynamic interaction between the characters invites readers to take risks, push boundaries, and have a little unscripted...

CLAYMATES

Reinvention is the name of the game for two blobs of clay.

A blue-eyed gray blob and a brown-eyed brown blob sit side by side, unsure as to what’s going to happen next. The gray anticipates an adventure, while the brown appears apprehensive. A pair of hands descends, and soon, amid a flurry of squishing and prodding and poking and sculpting, a handsome gray wolf and a stately brown owl emerge. The hands disappear, leaving the friends to their own devices. The owl is pleased, but the wolf convinces it that the best is yet to come. An ear pulled here and an extra eye placed there, and before you can shake a carving stick, a spurt of frenetic self-exploration—expressed as a tangled black scribble—reveals a succession of smug hybrid beasts. After all, the opportunity to become a “pig-e-phant” doesn’t come around every day. But the sound of approaching footsteps panics the pair of Picassos. How are they going to “fix [them]selves” on time? Soon a hippopotamus and peacock are staring bug-eyed at a returning pair of astonished hands. The creative naiveté of the “clay mates” is perfectly captured by Petty’s feisty, spot-on dialogue: “This was your idea…and it was a BAD one.” Eldridge’s endearing sculpted images are photographed against the stark white background of an artist’s work table to great effect.

The dynamic interaction between the characters invites readers to take risks, push boundaries, and have a little unscripted fun of their own . (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: June 20, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-316-30311-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2017

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