This sweet seedling will undoubtedly take root and thrive.

AND THEN IT'S SPRING

A boy plants seeds in late winter’s brown, barren earth and vigilantly watches for green sprouts alongside his companions (a dog, turtle, rabbit and bird).

Rambling narration, elasticized with many ands, thats, commas and a boy’s earnest concerns for his seeds, runs on, leaving readers waiting and waiting and waiting—just like the child gardener. The boy’s oversized glasses, his tilted, blank face (we never see his eyes) and tiny chin melt hearts instantly. Stead wisely withholds his features, letting Fogliano’s babbling stream of small worries and staggeringly sharp imaginings flesh him out. Silly bears might tread on the plantings, unaware of signs that read “please do not stomp here— / there are seeds / and they are trying.” Germinating seeds issue “a greenish hum / that you can only hear / if you put your ear to the ground / and close your eyes.” This elaborate inner world and darling voice reverberate in muted woodblock prints and empathetic pencil illustrations as well, its timbre and tone unchanged. Delicate lines run like fine veins, describing animals, trees, plants and fences with intricate and intentional specificity. Sizable, scalloped cloud formations, whose flat panes of white widen double-page horizons, offset both the scrupulous linework and abundant regions of brown and blue. Their simplicity ventilates these pictures, allowing readers to note amusing secondary animal activities in the dirt. Many treasures lie buried within this endearing story, in which humor and anxious anticipation sprout alongside one another.

This sweet seedling will undoubtedly take root and thrive. (Picture book. 3-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 14, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-59643-624-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Neal Porter/Roaring Brook

Review Posted Online: Dec. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 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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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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