Nothing new—and more discouraging than most, to boot.


A small child colors instead of drawing.

In this first-person narrator’s opinion, other kids are really good at drawing, but he isn’t. Drawing, here, means being representational and realistic. Young readers will notice immediately that the child’s drawings, which the narrator denigrates, look like their own drawings. Sala’s child-style portrayals of puppies, people, and cars are no less skilled than—and quite similar to—typical children’s work; if this child’s drawings are so bad they shouldn’t be attempted, should readers stop drawing too? Never revisiting this assumption, the child seeks expression with artwork but “without drawing anything.” The child uses various hues and types of line (thick, thin, squiggly, jagged) to portray moods (happy, sad, angry,) and vibes (scary; “something full of life”). However, the premise that conveying mood through color and abstract form requires less sophistication than representational drawing is false. Making a self-portrait, this white protagonist imagines hues that will capture various aspects of personality, including “a messy, dark brown”—unfortunately linking brownness with messiness. The watercolor, pencil, and crayon illustrations cohere less than E.B. Lewis’ in Angela Johnson’s Lily Brown’s Paintings (2007), a better choice about a child-artist, with child style beautifully integrated; to explore a dynamic relationship between color and mood, see Tameka Fryer Brown and Shane W. Evans’ My Cold Plum Lemon Pie Bluesy Mood (2013).

Nothing new—and more discouraging than most, to boot. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: March 21, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4814-6275-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Paula Wiseman/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Dec. 14, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

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As ephemeral as a valentine.


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.


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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