A beautiful, touching story of a family’s love and loss, the garden both metaphor and place of healing.

MY NANA'S GARDEN

A girl and her nana explore her garden together.

Over the years, a little girl pays many visits to her nana’s house and garden. Where the girl sees lots of weeds, her nana reframes it: “Wildflowers,” she says: “food for the bees.” They pick apples, sing in the rain, look at animal homes, and stargaze by firelight. As the seasons cycle, the girl and her mother continue to visit and, increasingly, to help her nana in the “lovely and wild” garden. Then one winter, Nana is gone, and the snow-filled garden and empty chair reflect the sad, quiet feelings the girl experiences. But even as the girl sits, forlorn, in the chair, a cross section shows two foxes snuggled in a burrow under the snow. And as winter turns to spring, the girl learns life goes on through honoring those we love and carrying on their work. There is so much beauty in this heartwarming story. Written in rhyming couplets, the simple text flows smoothly. The stunning, delicate illustrations fill in the gaps left by the text, depicting the charm of the garden, Nana’s aging, the family’s emotions, and the girl’s growth. The artwork provides a wonderful display of three—and then four—generations and the love they share. The girl and mother have brown skin and long, black hair while Nana has paler brown skin and white hair. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10.8-by-18.6-inch double-page spreads viewed at 60.4% of actual size.)

A beautiful, touching story of a family’s love and loss, the garden both metaphor and place of healing. (Picture book. 3-8)

Pub Date: March 23, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5362-1711-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Templar/Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2021

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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 comical, fresh look at crayons and color

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THE DAY THE CRAYONS QUIT

Duncan wants to draw, but instead of crayons, he finds a stack of letters listing the crayons’ demands in this humorous tale.

Red is overworked, laboring even on holidays. Gray is exhausted from coloring expansive spaces (elephants, rhinos and whales). Black wants to be considered a color-in color, and Peach? He’s naked without his wrapper! This anthropomorphized lot amicably requests workplace changes in hand-lettered writing, explaining their work stoppage to a surprised Duncan. Some are tired, others underutilized, while a few want official titles. With a little creativity and a lot of color, Duncan saves the day. Jeffers delivers energetic and playful illustrations, done in pencil, paint and crayon. The drawings are loose and lively, and with few lines, he makes his characters effectively emote. Clever spreads, such as Duncan’s “white cat in the snow” perfectly capture the crayons’ conundrum, and photographic representations of both the letters and coloring pages offer another layer of texture, lending to the tale’s overall believability.

A comical, fresh look at crayons and color . (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: June 27, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-399-25537-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: April 15, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2013

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