A saccharine bedtime read-aloud about big ideas and the promise in everyone. (Picture book. 3-6)

THE AMAZING IDEA OF YOU

What’s common among a seed, an egg, a tadpole, a caterpillar, goslings, and you? Each contains the idea of a mature being and the potential all living things possess.

A young, brown-skinned girl holds an apple, and readers are told that hidden inside “is the idea of a tree / wrapped tight / in [a] shiny seed.” The little girl bites into the apple, dropping a seed that could “take root / sprout / shoot up / into the blue.” The story then shows how other living things begin and grow before it shifts back to the little girl. While this middle section reflects similarities between human development and animal growth, phrases such as the “lapping lake” and “over lake and field / through clouds and miles / and days and nights” feel overdone. Additionally, near the story’s end, the celebration of a metaphorical orchard field “with creatures singing, springing, fluttering, winging— / and people laughing, lounging, munching, swinging” also reads as sappy. Primarily a story encouraging children to cultivate their remarkable selves, the book also teaches that “work and [a] long, loooooooong wait” are necessary to grow an idea. Opaque, spring-bright colors in the watercolor, pencil, and gouache illustrations extend to the page’s edge, eliciting the feel of being in the scene, and complement the text’s suggested importance of a human connection with nature.

A saccharine bedtime read-aloud about big ideas and the promise in everyone. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Feb. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-68119-183-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: Oct. 15, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2018

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As ephemeral as a valentine.

LOVE FROM THE CRAYONS

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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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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