Engaging, rewarding, and utterly delightful.

COUNTING CREATURES

Readers count from one to 10 and then jump from there to 15, 20, and 25 in this picture book featuring creatures in the wild.

Animals and their babies take the stage in this paper-engineered tale that allows young readers to make surprise discoveries. On the first spread, they meet a bat. Lift up the precisely die-cut bat’s wing to see “1 baby / Holding on tight as they fly through the night.” Page turns are propelled by the query that concludes each and every spread: “Who has more babies than that?” Continuing to count upward, readers meet leopard cubs, owlets, fox kits, leverets, caterpillars, and many more animals. Creatively designed flaps and die cuts, as well as pages with nontraditional trims, invite young hands to lift, peek, and search: Lift leaf-shaped flaps to see “8 baby mice”; peek through tree-trunk–shaped die cuts to see a forest with “15 poults”; and turn pages shaped like verdant hills to see “2 lambs.” The rhymes are unfussy, pleasingly rhythmic, and have unfailingly flawless meter (“9 ducklings / Swimming and snacking, / Practicing quacking”). Richly colored illustrations in vivid crimson, sapphire, marble green, and copper hues feature realistic animals in their natural habitats, though most are given sleek, wide, stylized eyes. The final spread throws readers a curveball with “LOTS of spiderlings,” depicted as die-cut holes with eight legs each on the previous page—and, it turns out, many of the pages before that.

Engaging, rewarding, and utterly delightful. (Picture book/novelty. 3-6)

Pub Date: Nov. 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-32453-0

Page Count: 58

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 25, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2021

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A sweet reminder that it’s easy to weather a storm with the company and kindness of friends.

GOOD NIGHT, LITTLE BLUE TRUCK

Is it a stormy-night scare or a bedtime book? Both!

Little Blue Truck and his good friend Toad are heading home when a storm lets loose. Before long, their familiar, now very nervous barnyard friends (Goat, Hen, Goose, Cow, Duck, and Pig) squeeze into the garage. Blue explains that “clouds bump and tumble in the sky, / but here inside we’re warm and dry, / and all the thirsty plants below / will get a drink to help them grow!” The friends begin to relax. “Duck said, loud as he could quack it, / ‘THUNDER’S JUST A NOISY RACKET!’ ” In the quiet after the storm, the barnyard friends are sleepy, but the garage is not their home. “ ‘Beep!’ said Blue. ‘Just hop inside. / All aboard for the bedtime ride!’ ” Young readers will settle down for their own bedtimes as Blue and Toad drop each friend at home and bid them a good night before returning to the garage and their own beds. “Blue gave one small sleepy ‘Beep.’ / Then Little Blue Truck fell fast asleep.” Joseph’s rich nighttime-blue illustrations (done “in the style of [series co-creator] Jill McElmurry”) highlight the power of the storm and capture the still serenity that follows. Little Blue Truck has been chugging along since 2008, but there seems to be plenty of gas left in the tank.

A sweet reminder that it’s easy to weather a storm with the company and kindness of friends. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Oct. 22, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-328-85213-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: June 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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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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