This tour de force of concept and design will engage the minds and hands of a wide swath of ages.

UP DOWN INSIDE OUT

A cast of eccentric humans and animals enacts 18 aphorisms in this interactive title.

Employing red and blue—and the range of tones that layering yields—Yoon has created a series of prints that will both amuse and give pause. On verso, a red-hot wall foregrounds “A watched pot [that] never boils” while four chefs on the recto, surrounding an enormous box of realistic-looking pasta, stare impatiently. (Skin color varies from literal white or black to speckled blue or crimson.) Flaps, die cuts, and a gatefold create anticipation and delight as surprises are unveiled in the ever shifting, surreal world. “You are what you eat” reveals a child’s head transformed into a gigantic broccoli floret. The heat of the reds and the busyness of abundant textures and patterns are mitigated by creamy white backgrounds or deep, moody blues, as when a man in the night opens his black trench coat to reveal his store of stolen watches, illustrating “Even a broken clock is right twice a day.” Yoon dishes up absurdity in the form of an elegantly dressed pig, a sense of danger with a rabbit-hunting wolf, and opportunities for comparison and reflection, as, for example, when the same conjoined figures are paired with the (unfortunate) choice “Liars and gossips are siamese [sic] twins,” and, later, “Two heads are better than one.”

This tour de force of concept and design will engage the minds and hands of a wide swath of ages. (Picture book. 5-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 10, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-59270-280-0

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Enchanted Lion Books

Review Posted Online: Sept. 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2019

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Sweet—and savory.

THE KEEPER OF WILD WORDS

When a girl visits her grandmother, a writer and “grand friend,” she is seeking something special to share at show and tell on the first day of school.

Before Brook can explain, Mimi expresses concern that certain words describing the natural world will disappear if someone doesn’t care for and use them. (An author’s note explains the author’s motivation: She had read of the removal of 100 words about outdoor phenomena from the Oxford Junior Dictionary.) The duo sets out to search for and experience the 19 words on Mimi’s list, from “acorn” and “buttercup” to “violet” and “willow.” Kloepper’s soft illustrations feature green and brown earth tones that frame the white, matte pages; bursts of red, purple, and other spot colors enliven the scenes. Both Mimi and Brook are depicted as white. The expedition is described in vivid language, organized as free verse in single sentences or short paragraphs. Key words are printed in color in a larger display type and capital letters. Sensory details allow the protagonist to hear, see, smell, taste, and hold the wild: “ ‘Quick! Make a wish!’ said Mimi, / holding out a DANDELION, / fairy dust sitting on a stem. / ‘Blow on it and the seeds will fly. / Your tiny wishes in the air.’ ” It’s a day of wonder, with a touch of danger and a solution to Brook’s quest. The last page forms an envelope for readers’ own vocabulary collections.

Sweet—and savory. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: March 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4521-7073-2

Page Count: 62

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2020

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Cute and brave—gee, Rot’s spud-tacular!

ROT, THE BRAVEST IN THE WORLD!

A “scaredy-spud” puts on his brave face.

All “mutant potatoes” love mud. Mud is good for playing games, eating, and even sleeping. But few taters have more tender feelings toward muck than Rot. À la Pete the Cat, Rot celebrates mud in song: “Mud between my toes! / Mud in my nose! / Mud is GREAT / wherever it GOES!” When Rot’s big brother, Snot, tells Rot about the Squirm that lives “deep down in the mushy muck,” his love quickly turns to fear. But he doesn’t give up! Instead, Rot imagines himself in various disguises to work up courage. There’s “Super Spud” (a superhero), “Sir Super Rot, the Brave and Bold” (a superhero-knight), and even “Sir Super Rot the Pigtato” (a, um, superhero-knight-pig-potato). The disguises are one thing, but, deep down, is Rot really brave enough to face the Squirm? Readers wooed by Rot’s charm in Rot: The Cutest in the World (2017) will laugh out loud at this well-paced encore—and it’s not just because of the butt cracks. Clanton creates a winning dynamic, balancing Rot’s earnestness, witty dialogue, and an omniscient, slightly melodramatic narrator. The cartoon illustrations were created using watercolors, colored pencils, digital collage, and—brilliantly—potato stamps. Clanton’s reliance on earth tones makes for some clever, surprising page turns when the palette is broken.

Cute and brave—gee, Rot’s spud-tacular! (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: June 16, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4814-6764-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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