Most apps have a long way to go before they will be as artful and engaging as this interactive wonder.

THE BOOK WITH A HOLE

Deliciously interactive and profoundly immersive, this book provides rich imaginative play from cover to cover.

The cover is red, black and white, with a substantial diecut half-circle void bisecting its spine. The pages are just black and white. Each spread has an irresistible circular hole in its middle and a few black lines to make an image for its question. “What are you going to cook?” invites readers to see the hole as the opening of a pot, with savory steam rising from it. The hole becomes the mouth of a three-eyed creature, the stomach of a dyspeptic gentleman (“what did he eat too much of?”) and then the expansive middle of a cheery pregnant woman (“Did she eat too much, too?”) Readers can put their own heads in the holes to be king or queen or build their own block skyscraper through a hole that’s surrounded by them. There’s a game board—with the hole of course—to make up your own rules. Readers are invited to toss a crumpled sheet of paper through a hole to shoot baskets or to make a trunk for an elephant with their arms. Sometimes the black-and-white lines become patters with no text, leaving youngsters to ask their own questions about that hole.

Most apps have a long way to go before they will be as artful and engaging as this interactive wonder. (Picture book. 3-8)

Pub Date: May 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-85437-946-7

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: April 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2011

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A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift.

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BECAUSE I HAD A TEACHER

A paean to teachers and their surrogates everywhere.

This gentle ode to a teacher’s skill at inspiring, encouraging, and being a role model is spoken, presumably, from a child’s viewpoint. However, the voice could equally be that of an adult, because who can’t look back upon teachers or other early mentors who gave of themselves and offered their pupils so much? Indeed, some of the self-aware, self-assured expressions herein seem perhaps more realistic as uttered from one who’s already grown. Alternatively, readers won’t fail to note that this small book, illustrated with gentle soy-ink drawings and featuring an adult-child bear duo engaged in various sedentary and lively pursuits, could just as easily be about human parent- (or grandparent-) child pairs: some of the softly colored illustrations depict scenarios that are more likely to occur within a home and/or other family-oriented setting. Makes sense: aren’t parents and other close family members children’s first teachers? This duality suggests that the book might be best shared one-on-one between a nostalgic adult and a child who’s developed some self-confidence, having learned a thing or two from a parent, grandparent, older relative, or classroom instructor.

A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-943200-08-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Compendium

Review Posted Online: Dec. 14, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

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Visually accomplished but marred by stereotypical cultural depictions.

HOME

Ellis, known for her illustrations for Colin Meloy’s Wildwood series, here riffs on the concept of “home.”

Shifting among homes mundane and speculative, contemporary and not, Ellis begins and ends with views of her own home and a peek into her studio. She highlights palaces and mansions, but she also takes readers to animal homes and a certain famously folkloric shoe (whose iconic Old Woman manages a passel of multiethnic kids absorbed in daring games). One spread showcases “some folks” who “live on the road”; a band unloads its tour bus in front of a theater marquee. Ellis’ compelling ink and gouache paintings, in a palette of blue-grays, sepia and brick red, depict scenes ranging from mythical, underwater Atlantis to a distant moonscape. Another spread, depicting a garden and large building under connected, transparent domes, invites readers to wonder: “Who in the world lives here? / And why?” (Earth is seen as a distant blue marble.) Some of Ellis’ chosen depictions, oddly juxtaposed and stripped of any historical or cultural context due to the stylized design and spare text, become stereotypical. “Some homes are boats. / Some homes are wigwams.” A sailing ship’s crew seems poised to land near a trio of men clad in breechcloths—otherwise unidentified and unremarked upon.

Visually accomplished but marred by stereotypical cultural depictions. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 24, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-7636-6529-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Nov. 18, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2014

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