A well-meaning mismatch between format and audience

ABC RAINFOREST

From the AMNH ABC Board Books series

The latest title in the American Museum of Natural History ABC board book series focuses on rain forests and the amazing animals and plants that populate them.

Like the other titles in this series, this is a beautifully designed volume that uses the alphabet as a convenient means to present some interesting scientific information. Striking stock photographs are paired with large letters and set against solid-colored backgrounds, creating a set of images that will appeal to readers of all ages, adults included. The facts and concepts offered here are a bit more sophisticated than in previous titles and seem to be pretty clearly aimed at children who already know their ABCs and are of an age to have transitioned to paper pages. D, for example, is for Deforestation, which “leads to the destruction of the rainforest,” while Z is for Zoochory, “the scattering of seeds by animals.” Neither a traditional alphabet book nor a comprehensive introduction to rain forests, this offers a combination of attractive illustrations and intriguing, if random, factoids that might spark readers to seek out other, more thorough treatments of the subject or check out their local natural history museums to learn more.

A well-meaning mismatch between format and audience . (Board book. 3-6)

Pub Date: April 5, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4549-1746-5

Page Count: 18

Publisher: Sterling

Review Posted Online: March 30, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2016

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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 TREE IS NICE

A nursery school approach to a general concept. "A tree is nice"- Why? Because..."We can climb the tree...play pirate ship...pick the apples...build playhouses out of the leaves. A tree is nice to hang a swing in...Birds build nests in trees... Sticks come off trees...People have picnics there too"...etc. etc. One follows the give and take of a shared succession of reactions to what a tree- or trees- can mean. There is a kind of poetic simplicity that is innate in small children. Marc Simont has made the pictures, half in full color, and they too have a childlike directness (with an underlying sophistication that adults will recognize). Not a book for everyone -but those who like it will like it immensely. The format (6 x 11) makes it a difficult book for shelving, so put it in the "clean hands" section of flat books. Here's your first book for Arbor Day use- a good spring and summer item.

Pub Date: June 15, 1956

ISBN: 978-0-06-443147-7

Page Count: 36

Publisher: Harper

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1956

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