THE HULLABALOO ABC

Cleary’s bouncy 1960 ABC book undergoes rejuvenation courtesy of Rand’s ultra-wholesome watercolors, which have a genuine bounce of their own. Three kids and a dog dash around a farm to a rhyming text: “G for Grunt/That’s the pig./Nothing moves him./He’s too big.” The kids and animals make lots of noise, hide in the barn during a cloudburst, and race home, muddied but still noisy in this brightly restored read-aloud. (Picture book. 3-8)

Pub Date: April 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-688-15182-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 1998

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A riotously fresh take on breaking the fourth wall.

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THE BOOK WITH NO PICTURES

This book may not have pictures, but it’s sure to inspire lots of conversations—and laughs.

Television writer, actor and comedian Novak delivers a rare find, indeed: a very good celebrity picture book. It doesn’t even seem fair to call it such, since it has nothing to do with his Emmy Award–winning writing for The Office or the fame his broader career has afforded him. The jacket flap even eschews a glossy photo, instead saying “B.J. has brown hair and blue eyes,” in order to keep with the book’s central conceit. What this book does have is text, and it’s presented through artful typography that visually conveys its changing tone to guide oral readings. Furthermore, the text implies (or rather, demands) a shared reading transaction, in which an adult is compelled to read the text aloud, no matter how “COMPLETELY RIDICULOUS” it is. Employing direct address, it pleads with the implied child listener to allow him or her to stop reading. Nonsense words, silly words to be sung and even a smattering of potty talk for good measure all coalesce in riotous read-aloud fare. Although the closing pages beg the implied child reader to “please please please please / please / choose a book with pictures” for subsequent reading, it’s likely that this request will be ignored.

A riotously fresh take on breaking the fourth wall. (. (Picture book. 3-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 30, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-8037-4171-3

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: July 16, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2014

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Lacking in originality yet ultimately a timely mirror for black boyhood and childhood

COOL CUTS

This companion to Happy Hair (2019) takes the same appreciation for the diversity of black self-expression from the beauty salon to the barbershop.

Branching out from black girl hairstyles, Roe here extends the conversation to consider the multitude of hairstyles for black and brown boys even as readers can infer a wider representation of the gender spectrum, since many of the illustrations come without explicit gender assignments. There’s a legacy of black boys who have been targeted, punished, or criticized for their choice of self-expression, and this book is a needed corrective. Arriving after the much-heralded Crown (2017), this makes space to celebrate a wide range of styles, from cornrows and curls to fro-hawks and flat-tops. Each matte, posterlike portrait is rendered alongside a catchy, empowering quote: “When the stars shine, / the world is mine” highlights a high-top; “A happy boy, / full of joy!” celebrates a step-up. A (rather trite) refrain pulls them all together: “i am born to be AWESOME!” Roe is returning to the series after Superheroes Are Everywhere (2019), her recent bestselling collaboration with Sen. Kamala Harris, undoubtedly bringing a number of new fans with her. For a segment of U.S. readership that is starved for representation that appreciates the unique details and nuances of their style and identity, this steps in to lift up their presence in bright, lively portraiture.

Lacking in originality yet ultimately a timely mirror for black boyhood and childhood . (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Feb. 11, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-9557-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Nov. 10, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2019

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