An uneven effort at inclusion.

ONE LITTLE TWO LITTLE THREE LITTLE CHILDREN

A multicultural spin on an old rhyme stops short of rehabilitating its problematic history.

“One little, / two little, / three little children” is both the title and the first line of this picture book. The children depicted in the opening illustrations are a racially diverse group occupied in various activities. The rhyme then turns to depict “One loving, / two loving, / three loving daddies” and includes a picture of a two-dad family. Mommies come next, and then the focus shifts to houses. The first homes are in a bucolic, rural setting, and then a verso page shows an apartment building. Facing this page is a trio of homes: “Snow-cozy, / stick-cozy, / brick-cozy houses,” and herein lies the rub: the igloo and teepee depicted here are juxtaposed with a child making a structure of building blocks, undermining efforts at multicultural inclusion by falsely equating these so-called “snow” and “stick” structures with toys. These depictions also bring to the forefront the text’s similarities to versions of the rhyme referring to “One little, / two little, / three little Indians” that have been roundly critiqued as racist, or, even more egregiously, other versions that use the n-word. The appearance of another teepee on the outskirts of the closing illustration is perplexing—is it a plaything like the soccer goals? Or just a visual balance for the ice cream truck? Or something else?

An uneven effort at inclusion. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: May 3, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-06-234866-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Feb. 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2016

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The flat ending is disappointing for a group of characters who could have exhibited a rousing rhythmic finale.

LOST AND FOUND, WHAT'S THAT SOUND?

Just before showtime, the animals in the band must search for their instruments in the lost and found by their identifying sounds.

A mouse happily claims the trumpet after a congenial-looking rabbit clerk produces a bicycle horn, trumpet, and toy train in response to a request for an instrument that makes a “Toot! Toot! Toot!” sound. Similarly a beaver retrieves the triangle from an assortment of things that make a “Ding! Ding! Ding!” sound. An elephant and a squirrel find their piano and drum, and the band reassembles, led by their conductor, a bat. The animals’ questions are phrased in rhyming couplets: “The thing I lost goes Plink! Plank! Plunk! I play it with my big, long trunk,” explains the elephant. The simple, black-outlined cartoons against a white or pale yellow background extend the narrative so that readers are expected to discern objects with their corresponding sounds. The rabbit offers the elephant first a piggy bank (“Plink!”), then a flowerpot full of water (“Plank!”), and then a comically tiny piano (“Plunk!”). Unfortunately, as the band comes together, their meager performance reflects the bareness of this storyline. The bat ends the search and exclaims, “You found my things! They sound so grand. / One, two, three— // let’s hit it, band! / Toot! Ding! Plunk! Boom!”

The flat ending is disappointing for a group of characters who could have exhibited a rousing rhythmic finale. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: June 13, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-238068-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: March 6, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2017

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Another snowy day book, but not special enough to recall Keats’ masterpiece.

WINTER IS FOR SNOW

A paean to wintertime and especially its snowy weather, this picture book fails to match the achievement of the many others that deal with this popular theme.

The child pictured in the jacket art is an unabashed lover of all things winter, and in rhyming text, he extols the season’s virtues to his curmudgeonly younger sister. Her responses (also rhyming) resist his enthusiastic praise of snowball fights, skating and the beauty of snowflakes “glittering like diamond dust.” Since the book ends up being about her eventual, grudging warming up to wintertime, it’s curious that she doesn’t appear on the cover, and her change of heart seems rather abrupt, reading; “Winter is for all these things? / Is it really so? / Winter might not be so bad. // Winter is for SNOW!” Such pat lines are par for the course in the text, which isn’t so much a story as it is a list. Illustrations show greater achievement, particularly in scenes depicting many characters milling about a snowy city landscape, evoking an animationlike flair.

Another snowy day book, but not special enough to recall Keats’ masterpiece. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Oct. 29, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-4231-7831-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Aug. 14, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2013

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