A quiet book for the preschool nature shelf.

TREE SONG

Rhyming text follows the life cycle of one acorn, from tiny sprout to crashing, fecund ancient oak.

Hushhhhhhhhhhhh warns wind and whirls seed down. / Seed lies, silent, on the ground.” Initially, the acorn is known generically as “seed,” but there can be no mistaking its photorealistic appearance—an interesting contrast against what appear to be computer-generated collages of the four seasons. Cartoonlike woodland creatures and ethnically diverse humans round out the brightly colored art. “Seed” waits quietly during fall and winter, escaping the attentions of hungry birds more than once, until it sprouts and sings its “tree-tra-la” near the bottom of a leafy green oak tree. Now it is referred to as “tree” instead of “seed.” As the tree grows, seasons come and go, and animals and humans enjoy their lives around it: They dance in its bright leaves; snowshoe around it; hold picnics; read in its shade. The illustrations make full use of different times of day, varying weather, and the underground homes of animals—all contributing to the richness surrounding the tree’s life. The idea of the tree as sentient and singing pervades the gentle near rhymes, and some little ones may become so attached they react with fear and sadness when the ancient oak finally lies silent. Fortunately, as with other mildly scary parts, soothing words and imagery follow.

A quiet book for the preschool nature shelf. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: April 10, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-77321-001-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Annick Press

Review Posted Online: Feb. 4, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2018

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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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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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