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, tender and charming experience to read aloud or together.

HEY, DUCK!

A clueless duckling tries to make a new friend.

He is confused by this peculiar-looking duck, who has a long tail, doesn’t waddle and likes to be alone. No matter how explicitly the creature denies he is a duck and announces that he is a cat, the duckling refuses to acknowledge the facts.  When this creature expresses complete lack of interest in playing puddle stomp, the little ducking goes off and plays on his own. But the cat is not without remorse for rejecting an offered friendship. Of course it all ends happily, with the two new friends enjoying each other’s company. Bramsen employs brief sentences and the simplest of rhymes to tell this slight tale. The two heroes are meticulously drawn with endearing, expressive faces and body language, and their feathers and fur appear textured and touchable. Even the detailed tree bark and grass seem three-dimensional. There are single- and double-page spreads, panels surrounded by white space and circular and oval frames, all in a variety of eye-pleasing juxtapositions. While the initial appeal is solidly visual, young readers will get the gentle message that friendship is not something to take for granted but is to be embraced with open arms—or paws and webbed feet.

A sweet, tender and charming experience to read aloud or together. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Jan. 22, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-375-86990-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Nov. 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2012

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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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