For fans of the series, more of the same.

AQUALICIOUS

Pinkalicious goes to the beach.

All decked out in her signature color, Pinkalicious is happily beachcombing when she picks up a large shell, and out tumbles a pink-haired, aqua-finned (and bra’ed) miniature mermaid. The creature introduces herself as Aqua and explains that she is a merminnie, “a smaller, rarer species of mermaids.” Pinkalicious’ response is predictable: “WOWEEE!” Toting her new find in her beach bucket, the little girl carries her to her family’s (pink) umbrella and dumps her out to show her off. Aqua’s reaction is also predictable: she wants to go back home. Disregarding her captive’s desires, Pinkalicious and her little brother, Peter, build a big sandcastle for Aqua; the ungrateful thing still wants to go home, but the children distract her with a snack and a game of minigolf. After more mild adventures, the children finally put her in the ocean—but it turns out that Aqua is the star merminnie of the aquarium nearby. The children’s cruelty is never interrogated, beyond Aqua’s carping at being carried in the beach bucket. Kann’s digital collages feature stiff characters with often unnaturally long arms and disproportionately tiny feet; when they are not smiling vapidly, their mouths form little O’s of consternation. The text is riddled with exclamation points, as if hoping to make up in enthusiasm what it lacks in craft.

For fans of the series, more of the same. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: March 3, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-06-233016-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: April 14, 2015

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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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A wandering effort, happy but pointless.

DRAGONS LOVE TACOS

From the Dragons Love Tacos series

The perfect book for kids who love dragons and mild tacos.

Rubin’s story starts with an incantatory edge: “Hey, kid! Did you know that dragons love tacos? They love beef tacos and chicken tacos. They love really big gigantic tacos and tiny little baby tacos as well.” The playing field is set: dragons, tacos. As a pairing, they are fairly silly, and when the kicker comes in—that dragons hate spicy salsa, which ignites their inner fireworks—the silliness is sillier still. Second nature, after all, is for dragons to blow flames out their noses. So when the kid throws a taco party for the dragons, it seems a weak device that the clearly labeled “totally mild” salsa comes with spicy jalapenos in the fine print, prompting the dragons to burn down the house, resulting in a barn-raising at which more tacos are served. Harmless, but if there is a parable hidden in the dragon-taco tale, it is hidden in the unlit deep, and as a measure of lunacy, bridled or unbridled, it doesn’t make the leap into the outer reaches of imagination. Salmieri’s artwork is fitting, with a crabbed, ethereal line work reminiscent of Peter Sís, but the story does not offer it enough range.

A wandering effort, happy but pointless. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: June 14, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-8037-3680-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: March 28, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2012

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