A snapshot of country life full of sounds and sentiment.

COCK-A-DOODLE DOO, CREAK, POP-POP, MOO

What can you hear on a farm?

The titular "cock-a-doodle-doo, creak, pop-pop, and moo," just to start. Crisp, clear lines rich in onomatopoeia describe a day from morning to night in this nostalgic paean to life on a farm, while stylized, retro watercolors provide a humorous look at the farm’s residents, both animal and human. From start (“Rooster crows, / Cock-a-doodle-doo. / Wake up, girls, / And little boys, too”) to finish (“Owl calls out / Hoo, hoo, hoo, hoo. / Goodnight, boys, / And little girls, too”), this agreeable selection delivers the sounds, look and atmosphere of an old-time farm. Young children will enjoy the strong rhymes and catchy beat, which beckon them to join in, and appreciate the introduction to some of the specifics of the world of a farm, including cooking, chores and the rhythm of nature. Sneed's characters, both animal and human, and backgrounds are rendered with curving, sometimes off-kilter lines, constantly evoking motion and complementing the rhythmic text. In composition and perspective, they echo the heroic murals of the Works Progress Administration. He fills the pages with details (a swallow feeds its babies at its nest under the eaves) and humor (a pig squints lazily up from its bed in the mud). 

A snapshot of country life full of sounds and sentiment. (Picture book. 2-5)

Pub Date: April 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-8234-2356-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: Feb. 5, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2012

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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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Ideal for any community where children count.

COUNTING ON COMMUNITY

A difficult concept is simply and strikingly illustrated for the very youngest members of any community, with a counting exercise to boot.

From the opening invitation, “Living in community, / it's a lot of FUN! / Lets count the ways. / Lets start with ONE,” Nagaro shows an urban community that is multicultural, supportive, and happy—exactly like the neighborhoods that many families choose to live and raise their children in. Text on every other page rhymes unobtrusively. Unlike the vocabulary found in A Is for Activist (2013), this book’s is entirely age-appropriate (though some parents might not agree that picketing is a way to show “that we care”). In A Is for Activist, a cat was hidden on each page; this time, finding the duck is the game. Counting is almost peripheral to the message. On the page with “Seven bikes and scooters and helmets to share,” identifying toys in an artistic heap is confusing. There is only one helmet for five toys, unless you count the second helmet worn by the girl riding a scooter—but then there are eight items, not seven. Seven helmets and seven toys would have been clearer. That quibble aside, Nagara's graphic design skills are evident, with deep colors, interesting angles, and strong lines, in a mix of digital collage and ink.

Ideal for any community where children count. (Board book. 2-5)

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-60980-632-3

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Triangle Square Books for Young Readers

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2016

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