Quirky, playful, affirming fun! (Picture book. 3-7)

LEAH'S MUSTACHE PARTY

A little girl’s pirate costume inspires a love of mustaches, which her mother happily indulges.

Leah dresses up like a pirate for Halloween but thinks her costume is missing a certain something until her mother draws a mustache on her face. She experiences a bit of a letdown the next day but then decides “that it did not need to be Halloween to have fun and dress up,” and her mother obliges when asked to draw another mustache on her face. No one objects to her gender-bending dress-up play, though some kids briefly take pause when she invites them to the titular “mustache party” for her birthday. When asked why she chose this theme (instead of a princess or a fairy party), Leah simply responds, “Because I think mustaches are cool!” Self-assured and exuberant, Leah enjoys a very happy birthday with friends and family. Although the text specifies neither cultural context nor setting, the author is Inuit, and her photo alongside her red-haired daughter Leah’s suggest that illustrator Chua based her illustrations of the fictional Leah and her mom on them. Illustrated clues in the setting, including snowy scenes on Halloween, mukluks stored near gloves and a jacket in a friend’s house, and small buildings close together and linked by power lines, evoke the author’s First Nations home of Iqaluit, Nunavut.

Quirky, playful, affirming fun! (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-7722-7081-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Inhabit Media

Review Posted Online: Aug. 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2016

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Safe to creep on by.

LOVE FROM THE VERY HUNGRY CATERPILLAR

Carle’s famous caterpillar expresses its love.

In three sentences that stretch out over most of the book’s 32 pages, the (here, at least) not-so-ravenous larva first describes the object of its love, then describes how that loved one makes it feel before concluding, “That’s why… / I[heart]U.” There is little original in either visual or textual content, much of it mined from The Very Hungry Caterpillar. “You are… / …so sweet,” proclaims the caterpillar as it crawls through the hole it’s munched in a strawberry; “…the cherry on my cake,” it says as it perches on the familiar square of chocolate cake; “…the apple of my eye,” it announces as it emerges from an apple. Images familiar from other works join the smiling sun that shone down on the caterpillar as it delivers assurances that “you make… / …the sun shine brighter / …the stars sparkle,” and so on. The book is small, only 7 inches high and 5 ¾ inches across when closed—probably not coincidentally about the size of a greeting card. While generations of children have grown up with the ravenous caterpillar, this collection of Carle imagery and platitudinous sentiment has little of his classic’s charm. The melding of Carle’s caterpillar with Robert Indiana’s iconic LOVE on the book’s cover, alas, draws further attention to its derivative nature.

Safe to creep on by. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Dec. 15, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-448-48932-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: Feb. 2, 2021

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As ephemeral as a valentine.

LOVE FROM THE CRAYONS

Daywalt and Jeffers’ wandering crayons explore love.

Each double-page spread offers readers a vision of one of the anthropomorphic crayons on the left along with the statement “Love is [color].” The word love is represented by a small heart in the appropriate color. Opposite, childlike crayon drawings explain how that color represents love. So, readers learn, “love is green. / Because love is helpful.” The accompanying crayon drawing depicts two alligators, one holding a recycling bin and the other tossing a plastic cup into it, offering readers two ways of understanding green. Some statements are thought-provoking: “Love is white. / Because sometimes love is hard to see,” reaches beyond the immediate image of a cat’s yellow eyes, pink nose, and black mouth and whiskers, its white face and body indistinguishable from the paper it’s drawn on, to prompt real questions. “Love is brown. / Because sometimes love stinks,” on the other hand, depicted by a brown bear standing next to a brown, squiggly turd, may provoke giggles but is fundamentally a cheap laugh. Some of the color assignments have a distinctly arbitrary feel: Why is purple associated with the imagination and pink with silliness? Fans of The Day the Crayons Quit (2013) hoping for more clever, metaliterary fun will be disappointed by this rather syrupy read.

As ephemeral as a valentine. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Dec. 24, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5247-9268-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Penguin Workshop

Review Posted Online: Feb. 2, 2021

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