Practical application mixes with play, adding up to enjoyable learning.



Ten exuberant chicks head to the park for playtime and a self-guided math lesson.

The chicks, who sport feathers in various shades of yellow, brown, and black, have brought a notepad and are “ready to add!” They observe and calculate different chick configurations within each game or on a piece of playground equipment. Throughout, “a lonely mouse watches,” mimicking their play from afar. Ten stacked chicks are ultimately not tall enough to reach a basketball lodged in the hoop; but 10 chicks “plus 1 helpful mouse” are! The sums do not appear in order (4, 5 ,6, etc.), and this lack of pattern discourages guessing. They do appear on the same spreads as the setup: On the left, “2 chicks far plus / 2 chicks near equals…” appears within eyesight of “4 chicks playing tag” on the right. This design aspect suits the book to younger readers who are still being introduced to basic arithmetic functions and are not quite ready for independent work. On each calculation page, a chick uses the notepad to visualize one of many addition methods. Backmatter gives further explanations on these tools, describing a standard equation, tally marks, number lines, a number bond, and fingers “(or feathers),” among others. Hand-done textures on the digital illustrations appear delightfully scratched, as if by chicken feet, and playful, emphasizing the lighthearted tone of the lesson.

Practical application mixes with play, adding up to enjoyable learning. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 13, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-62979-807-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Boyds Mills

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2019

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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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This seemingly simple tale packs a satisfying emotional punch. Scarily good! (Picture book. 4-7)


Monster lives in Cutesville, where he feels his googly eyes make him unlovable, especially compared to all the “cute, fluffy” kittens, puppies and bunnies. He goes off to find someone who will appreciate him just the way he is…with funny and heartwarming results.

A red, scraggly, pointy-eared, arm-dragging monster with a pronounced underbite clutches his monster doll to one side of his chest, exposing a purplish blue heart on the other. His oversized eyes express his loneliness. Bright could not have created a more sympathetic and adorable character. But she further impresses with the telling of this poor chap’s journey. Since Monster is not the “moping-around sort,” he strikes out on his own to find someone who will love him. “He look[s] high” from on top of a hill, and “he look[s] low” at the bottom of the same hill. The page turn reveals a rolling (and labeled) tumbleweed on a flat stretch. Here “he look[s] middle-ish.” Careful pacing combines with dramatic design and the deadpan text to make this sad search a very funny one. When it gets dark and scary, he decides to head back home. A bus’s headlights shine on his bent figure. All seems hopeless—until the next page surprises, with a smiling, orange monster with long eyelashes and a pink heart on her chest depicted at the wheel. And “in the blink of a googly eye / everything change[s].”

This seemingly simple tale packs a satisfying emotional punch. Scarily good! (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Dec. 31, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-374-34646-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Sept. 18, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2013

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