While there’s rhyme, this text lacks reason.


Nursery rhymes provide playful opportunities for a diverse classroom.

Readers familiar with Codell’s work may recognize that Chavarri models the teacher character after her in the colorful, digital illustrations. The teacher greets a multiracial group of children entering her nursery school classroom in frontmatter pages. And the text begins with a brief Q-and-A: “Circle time? Yes. Playing with friends? Yes. Indoor recess? NOOOOO!” The teacher holds up a Mother Goose book to entice her disappointed charges, who stand looking out at the rain in the last part of this exchange. The subsequent double-page spread doesn’t seem quite to follow, as it first shows the “Twinkle Twinkle” rhyme and then depicts a pajama-clad black child answering “Yes” to “Window?” “Star?” “Wish?” and “NOOOOO!” to “Space aliens?” But then a page turn delivers the equivocal verdict “Well, maybe” and shows the child cavorting in a fantastic outer-space scene with extraterrestrials, spaceships, and the cow jumping over the moon. (Is this indoor recess?) The Q-and-A pattern continues with other rhymes until the book’s end, when it returns to classroom, teacher, and children, who can now go outside to play since the rain, rain’s gone away.

While there’s rhyme, this text lacks reason. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: June 21, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4814-4036-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Aladdin

Review Posted Online: March 16, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2016

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As a book, mildly satisfying; as a greeting card, rather expensive.


A cheery board book that plays the familiar tune.

Anthropomorphic animals, digitally illustrated with a vintage style and palette, play different musical instruments as they make their ways to a cafe to celebrate Otter’s birthday. There’s not much of a story arc in its 10 pages, which lends the book a greeting-card feel. Each spread highlights an animal or two and their respective instruments: Bear plays a flute, Badger strums a guitar, Wolf drives by with a bass in its truck, Cat plays violin, and birthday boy Otter hears Moose on the piano. Press a shiny musical note in each illustration, and the book plays an instrumental line from the familiar song. The quality of the recordings is quite good, capturing the sound and tone of each instrument, and the culminating spread is an ensemble playing the full song. A “glowing candle” is promoted on the cover along with the book’s musical feature, and it appears on a cake on the final spread when all the animals from the prior pages gather to celebrate Otter’s special day. In a potentially confusing turn, Wolf holds the cake instead of playing bass (a fox has stepped in), and an opossum and a rabbit play tambourine, though they weren’t pictured with instruments earlier.

As a book, mildly satisfying; as a greeting card, rather expensive. (Board book. 3-5)

Pub Date: April 10, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-7636-9943-7

Page Count: 10

Publisher: Nosy Crow/Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Feb. 13, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2018

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A pleasant-enough diversion.


What can all the characters in Mother Goose's world do when the reveler in chief runs out of revelry?

Trapani begins with the familiar first verse of the nursery rhyme, with the trio of fiddlers (cats in green tunics walking on two legs) trailing behind the unmistakably merry monarch. But once he settles into his throne, Cole can't stay awake for the King Cole Ball. Some of his problem is the sweetness of the fiddlers' serenade, but also his party preparations have simply worn him out. Mother Hubbard and her dog, the Three Little Pigs, Little Boy Blue (depicted with brown skin and curly black hair), and Bo Peep (drawn with Asian facial characteristics) each have a try, but to no avail. All the Mother Goose guests pace the floor in distress, until the Queen of Hearts waltzes in with a tray to save the day. The heavenly aroma of her heart-shaped tarts jolts the king from slumber, and the taste puts him back in a party mood. Trapani's paintings, in watercolor, Acryla gouache, ink, and colored pencil, are bright and delightful, but they are busy enough that large groups will find distinguishing them a challenge. The story itself is amusing but does not stand out in the Mother Goose crowd. Music and extended lyrics for "Old King Cole" fill the last page.

A pleasant-enough diversion. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Aug. 4, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-58089-632-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Charlesbridge

Review Posted Online: June 6, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2015

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