THE TWELVE DAYS OF CHRISTMAS

A little Caucasian boy and girl in 19th-century garb enact the familiar song.

The song unfolds on the verso while on the recto, each gift is presented within an ornate frame that grows and changes shape from day to day. Pham gives readers plenty to look at. On the third day, while the girl accepts the three French hens, the little boy shoos away one of the turtledoves; on the fifth day, the little girl gazes at the five finches bearing five rings, while the little boy tries to keep one of the six geese a-laying from arriving too early. The artist paints different varieties of hens, geese and swans, preparing readers for the truly multicultural spreads that begin on the eighth day. The maids a-milking come from all corners of the globe in variations on traditional dress, as do the rest of the humans. Among the lords a-leaping are a bearded Cossack, a turbaned rajah, a Georgian gentleman and two lords from different African cultures. The pipers include, with a little bit of artistic license, a man in Tyrolean dress playing an alpenhorn. One final spread crams all 78 gifts into two pages as the little girl kisses the goggle-eyed boy. (All 78 also appear on the reverse of the jacket, which unfolds into a poster.) The final two pages provide background on Epiphany and the origins of the song.

A joyous visual feast . (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 23, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-385-37413-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Aug. 13, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2014

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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 comical, fresh look at crayons and color

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THE DAY THE CRAYONS QUIT

Duncan wants to draw, but instead of crayons, he finds a stack of letters listing the crayons’ demands in this humorous tale.

Red is overworked, laboring even on holidays. Gray is exhausted from coloring expansive spaces (elephants, rhinos and whales). Black wants to be considered a color-in color, and Peach? He’s naked without his wrapper! This anthropomorphized lot amicably requests workplace changes in hand-lettered writing, explaining their work stoppage to a surprised Duncan. Some are tired, others underutilized, while a few want official titles. With a little creativity and a lot of color, Duncan saves the day. Jeffers delivers energetic and playful illustrations, done in pencil, paint and crayon. The drawings are loose and lively, and with few lines, he makes his characters effectively emote. Clever spreads, such as Duncan’s “white cat in the snow” perfectly capture the crayons’ conundrum, and photographic representations of both the letters and coloring pages offer another layer of texture, lending to the tale’s overall believability.

A comical, fresh look at crayons and color . (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: June 27, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-399-25537-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: April 15, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2013

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