Sweet and silly—good enough for Halloween

CLICK, CLACK, BOO!

A TRICKY TREAT

The barnyard animals love Halloween. Farmer Brown does not. Sounds like the perfect time for tricks and treats!

Since Farmer Brown wants nothing to do with the scary holiday, “he leaves a bowl of candy on the porch….draws the shades and locks the door.” Out in the barn, though, the party is just getting started. Saturated watercolors show Cow dressed as a skeleton, the chickens looking quite ghostly and the sheep donning witch hats. As field mice and cats arrive, creepy sounds begin. The “crunch, crunch, crunching” and the “creak, creak, creaking” lead to a “tap, tap, tapping.” Hearing them, Farmer Brown peeks out his window to investigate. Readers will chuckle and easily recognize “the dark creature standing beneath the trees.” The farmer, however, runs to his bedroom to pull the covers up over his head. Now the sounds repeat, as the figure comes closer. This time, though, the tapping is followed by a “quack, quack, quackle.” Wait—“Quackle??” Farmer Brown goes out to the porch to find the candy bowl gone and a note on the door announcing, “Halloween Party at the barn!” The chorus of onomatopoeic phrases throughout the briskly paced text guarantees an interactive read-aloud, though fans of Duck’s earlier outings will miss their satiric bite.

Sweet and silly—good enough for Halloween . (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Aug. 13, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-4424-6553-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2013

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Safe to creep on by.

LOVE FROM THE VERY HUNGRY CATERPILLAR

Carle’s famous caterpillar expresses its love.

In three sentences that stretch out over most of the book’s 32 pages, the (here, at least) not-so-ravenous larva first describes the object of its love, then describes how that loved one makes it feel before concluding, “That’s why… / I[heart]U.” There is little original in either visual or textual content, much of it mined from The Very Hungry Caterpillar. “You are… / …so sweet,” proclaims the caterpillar as it crawls through the hole it’s munched in a strawberry; “…the cherry on my cake,” it says as it perches on the familiar square of chocolate cake; “…the apple of my eye,” it announces as it emerges from an apple. Images familiar from other works join the smiling sun that shone down on the caterpillar as it delivers assurances that “you make… / …the sun shine brighter / …the stars sparkle,” and so on. The book is small, only 7 inches high and 5 ¾ inches across when closed—probably not coincidentally about the size of a greeting card. While generations of children have grown up with the ravenous caterpillar, this collection of Carle imagery and platitudinous sentiment has little of his classic’s charm. The melding of Carle’s caterpillar with Robert Indiana’s iconic LOVE on the book’s cover, alas, draws further attention to its derivative nature.

Safe to creep on by. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Dec. 15, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-448-48932-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: Feb. 2, 2021

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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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