Feathery fun for the newly numerate. Take it away, Arithmechicks!

ARITHMECHICKS TAKE AWAY

A MATH STORY

Arithmechicks discover that (as Stephens puts it) “bedtime – chicks = later bedtime!”

Together with the new mouse friend they met in Arithmechicks Add Up (2019), 10 diversely hued and patterned chicks respond to Mama’s “Time to hit the hay!” with a wild scramble to hide—first one, which leaves nine to go, then three more, leaving six, and so on in unpredictable groups until there are “0 chicks” (nor any mouse) to be seen. Then, just to change things up, no sooner does Mama find her chicks than a cry of “Again! Again!” touches off a second round of disappearances in different groupings. Each successive subtraction comes with an open-ended line, as in “10 chicks minus 1 chick equals…,” with the answer not immediately adjacent but visible on the facing page. To help readers arrive at solutions, Liu tucks into her cartoon pictures various strategies, including a traditional arithmetical equation, a “ten frame,” a number line, or even fingers (feathers); these are all summarized in small type in a closing section. Stephens uses alliteration and internal rhymes to set up a cozy rhythm, and she brings the brouhaha to an end with a final henhouse snuggle (Mouse gets a sleeping bag): “All found and winding down / with cuddles and bedtime books. / Stretching starts, yawns are next, / dreams are coming soon.” (This book was reviewed digitally with 9-by-18-inch double-page spreads viewed at 75% of actual size.)

Feathery fun for the newly numerate. Take it away, Arithmechicks! (Informational picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Sept. 8, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-62979-808-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Boyds Mills

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2020

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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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It’s a bit hard to dance, or count, to this beat.

ONE MORE DINO ON THE FLOOR

Dinos that love to move and groove get children counting from one to 10—and perhaps moving to the beat.

Beginning with a solo bop by a female dino (she has eyelashes, doncha know), the dinosaur dance party begins. Each turn of the page adds another dino and a change in the dance genre: waltz, country line dancing, disco, limbo, square dancing, hip-hop, and swing. As the party would be incomplete without the moonwalk, the T. Rex does the honors…and once they are beyond their initial panic at his appearance, the onlookers cheer wildly. The repeated refrain on each spread allows for audience participation, though it doesn’t easily trip off the tongue: “They hear a swish. / What’s this? / One more? / One more dino on the floor.” Some of the prehistoric beasts are easily identifiable—pterodactyl, ankylosaurus, triceratops—but others will be known only to the dino-obsessed; none are identified, other than T-Rex. Packed spreads filled with psychedelically colored dinos sporting blocks of color, stripes, or polka dots (and infectious looks of joy) make identification even more difficult, to say nothing of counting them. Indeed, this fails as a counting primer: there are extra animals (and sometimes a grumpy T-Rex) in the backgrounds, and the next dino to join the party pokes its head into the frame on the page before. Besides all that, most kids won’t get the dance references.

It’s a bit hard to dance, or count, to this beat. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: March 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-8075-1598-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Whitman

Review Posted Online: Jan. 20, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2016

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