TELL ME WHAT IT’S LIKE TO BE BIG

Wee Willa and her older brother Willoughby return in a poignant tale about growing up. When Willa springs awake at the crack of dawn, she tries to rustle up some breakfast on her own. Alas, despite her best endeavors, she is just too small, so up the stairs she goes to recruit her older brother. Bleary-eyed but resigned, Willoughby helps his younger sibling, entertaining her with tales of what it will be like when she’s big. Dunbar (The Very Small, 2000, etc.) fills the story with wry humor: in a stratagem worthy of any political candidate, Willa nimbly gets Willoughby to wash the breakfast dishes. Many other slyly humorous references abound, such as the pair walking “paw in paw.” Yet it soon dawns on Willa that growing up entails a bit more than she’s ready for—too much independence, no toys, etc. A comforting early-morning snuggle with mom restores Willa’s equanimity and the siblings soon drift off to sleep, safe in the embrace of their mother. Dunbar’s tale evokes all that is wonderful about sibling relationships: the gentle guidance, loving support, and the deep bonds that develop. Gliori’s full-page, full-bleed illustrations truly capture the poignant whimsy of the tale; the gentle sweeping curve of an ear, the sweet expressions, all conveying a wealth of love and emotion. Suffused with warmth, this inviting tale is perfect for snuggling up and sharing with a loved one. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-15-202564-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2001

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As ephemeral as a valentine.

LOVE FROM THE CRAYONS

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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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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