A visually interesting concept book, full of wonder and lightsomeness, that’s useful for teaching young ones about colors.

COLOR THE SKY

Sitting by the window, a young child sees a red bird flying past and is drawn outside.

Once in the garden, the child, who could be a girl or a boy, peeks out from behind a tree, gazes up at the bird, and narrates: “Red big. / Red small. / Red sits on my garden wall.” Red big refers to the huge tree with a vast canopy of red leaves, while Red small refers to the bird perched nearby. The child spies eight more birds, one by one, each a different color. While the birds’ species aren’t specified, they appear to be a red cardinal, a blue jay, a yellow canary, a red-winged blackbird, a white dove, a green hummingbird, an orange oriole, a purple honeycreeper, and a brown woodcreeper (or possibly a house wren). The singsong rhyming text introduces various early learning concepts such as directionality (“Brown left. / Brown right. / Brown in shadow. / Brown in light”) and height (“Blue low. / Blue high. / Blue has taken to the sky”), and the placement of words on the page cleverly underscores the concept. The backgrounds of each spread and the child’s face, skin, and clothing, which are transparent at first, cumulatively take on the hues of the birds until the pages frenetically burst with color. The pastel-and-charcoal illustrations become increasingly energetic, whimsical and full of scribbles, as the child progressively adopts the behavior of the birds, blissfully singing and losing themselves in euphoric flight. Unfortunately, the climactic ending scenes are crowded with so many abstract lines and have such a chaotic composition that they lack the sense of open space needed for flight. Most of the verse scans well, though a missing syllable at the end makes the closing line sag.

A visually interesting concept book, full of wonder and lightsomeness, that’s useful for teaching young ones about colors. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Feb. 8, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-316-21207-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Dec. 3, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 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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A sweet reminder that it’s easy to weather a storm with the company and kindness of friends.

GOOD NIGHT, LITTLE BLUE TRUCK

Is it a stormy-night scare or a bedtime book? Both!

Little Blue Truck and his good friend Toad are heading home when a storm lets loose. Before long, their familiar, now very nervous barnyard friends (Goat, Hen, Goose, Cow, Duck, and Pig) squeeze into the garage. Blue explains that “clouds bump and tumble in the sky, / but here inside we’re warm and dry, / and all the thirsty plants below / will get a drink to help them grow!” The friends begin to relax. “Duck said, loud as he could quack it, / ‘THUNDER’S JUST A NOISY RACKET!’ ” In the quiet after the storm, the barnyard friends are sleepy, but the garage is not their home. “ ‘Beep!’ said Blue. ‘Just hop inside. / All aboard for the bedtime ride!’ ” Young readers will settle down for their own bedtimes as Blue and Toad drop each friend at home and bid them a good night before returning to the garage and their own beds. “Blue gave one small sleepy ‘Beep.’ / Then Little Blue Truck fell fast asleep.” Joseph’s rich nighttime-blue illustrations (done “in the style of [series co-creator] Jill McElmurry”) highlight the power of the storm and capture the still serenity that follows. Little Blue Truck has been chugging along since 2008, but there seems to be plenty of gas left in the tank.

A sweet reminder that it’s easy to weather a storm with the company and kindness of friends. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Oct. 22, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-328-85213-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: June 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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