A great counting and learning combination.

OCEAN COUNTING

Gorgeous photographs and straightforward counting offer preschoolers a few facts about some ocean animals.

As is to be expected for a National Geographic title, Skerry’s photographs take center stage. Each double-page spread is filled completely with a close-up of the featured species in its natural environment, capturing a small slice of life and hooking readers. From the photo of the hammerhead sharks, seen in shadow from underneath, to the brilliantly colored glass eye fish that “dart and dip” such that the picture’s background shows a slight blur, each page turn surprises. Young readers will be fascinated by the mix of mammals, fish and invertebrates—a green sea turtle, Bermuda sea chub, harp seals, star-eyed parrotfish, Caribbean reef squid, Adélie penguins, sea otters—that represent a wide range of marine environments. The brightly colored numerals in the corners are prominent, while a brief paragraph tells about each of the 10 different marine species, giving basic facts and frequently drawing readers in with a question. “Five arms on this pink sea star bend and flex. Tube-like suckers underneath these arms hold the sea star in place. What else do the suckers do? They grab food and help the sea star move.” “Did you know” boxes provide one other tidbit. Backmatter includes more counting practice, facts about each species (home, size, food, predators, young), a map, glossary and list of resources.

 A great counting and learning combination. (Informational picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: May 14, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-4263-1116-1

Page Count: 48

Publisher: National Geographic

Review Posted Online: March 20, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2013

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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 forgettable tale.

THE LITTLEST REINDEER

Dot, the smallest reindeer at the North Pole, is too little to fly with the reindeer team on Christmas Eve, but she helps Santa in a different, unexpected way.

Dot is distressed because she can’t jump and fly like the other, bigger reindeer. Her family members encourage her and help her practice her skills, and her mother tells her, “There’s always next year.” Dot’s elf friend, Oliver, encourages her and spends time playing with her, doing things that Dot can do well, such as building a snowman and chasing their friend Yeti (who looks like a fuzzy, white gumdrop). On Christmas Eve, Santa and the reindeer team take off with their overloaded sleigh. Only Dot notices one small present that’s fallen in the snow, and she successfully leaps into the departing sleigh with the gift. This climactic flying leap into the sleigh is not adequately illustrated, as Dot is shown just starting to leap and then already in the sleigh. A saccharine conclusion notes that being little can sometimes be great and that “having a friend by your side makes anything possible.” The story is pleasant but predictable, with an improbably easy solution to Dot’s problem. Illustrations in a muted palette are similarly pleasant but predictable, with a greeting-card flavor that lacks originality. The elf characters include boys, girls, and adults; all the elves and Santa and Mrs. Claus are white.

A forgettable tale. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-338-15738-3

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Cartwheel/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Aug. 21, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2017

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