A visually impressive, mostly well-executed offering.

RIBBIT

The life cycle of a frog is shown with illustrations and minimal words in this picture book.

Continuing the format and style of her previous books (Hop, 2015, etc.)—one word per double-page spread and crisp, matte illustrations—Hurley’s new book illustrates the life cycle of a leopard frog. The book begins with an illustration of a cluster of frog’s eggs and the word “wait.” Next is “hatch,” as the illustration shows a tadpole emerging. Eating, avoiding being eaten, metamorphosing from a tadpole to a frog all follow in their proper order. A seasonal clue arrives with “hibernate,” and the illustration shows the frog nestled into the mud of a pond, which is covered in ice and snow. When Hurley reaches the mating part of the frog’s life cycle, however, she veers from her unambiguous delivery and uses the word “ribbit” to indicate breeding. While the author’s note at the end of the story tells readers that frogs do most of their croaking when looking for a mate, this side-stepping on “ribbit,” especially when juxtaposed against the book’s otherwise straightforwardness, strikes an off note. A vertical gatefold is successful, as it gives an appreciated twist to the one-word-per-double-spread format. The book’s overall design is impeccable in its spare way, but the author’s note is essential to fill in the blanks.

A visually impressive, mostly well-executed offering. (Informational picture book. 2-5)

Pub Date: Feb. 7, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4814-3274-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Paula Wiseman/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2016

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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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Fun format; bland text.

LOVEBLOCK

From the Block Books series

A hefty board book filled with ruminations on the nature of love.

While love is the topic of this board book, it’s the inventive gatefolds and charmingly vintage illustrations that readers will fall for. Brimming with sweeping declarations along the lines of “Love is / strong. // You have my back and I’ll always have yours,” the text sounds like a series of greeting cards strung together. It’s benign enough, but are most toddlers interested in generic proclamations about love? Some statements, like the ones on “unsinkable” hippos or a panda parent holding a cub “steady,” could introduce new vocabulary. At least there’s plenty of winsome critters to fawn over as the surprisingly sturdy flaps tell dramatic little ministories for each cartoon-style animal species. A downcast baby giraffe looks longingly up at a too-high tasty branch; lift a flap to bring an adult giraffe—and the delicacy—down to the baby, or watch an adventurous young fox retreat into a fold-down–flap burrow to learn that “my heart will always be home with you.” At points, the pages are tricky to turn in the correct order, but clever touches, like a series of folds that slow readers down to a sloth’s speed, make up for it. The book concludes with a gatefold revealing a vibrant playground populated with racially and ethnically diverse humans; two are wheelchair users.

Fun format; bland text. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4197-3153-2

Page Count: 84

Publisher: Abrams Appleseed

Review Posted Online: Dec. 25, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2021

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