Mixed-media illustrations feature cartoon owls with a variety of clothing and accessories. Extending across each double-page...

HOOTENANNY!

A FESTIVE COUNTING BOOK

There's a party tonight at the old oak tree, and one, two, three, four, five dancing owls bathe, put on special shoes and hats, collect their instruments and climb up to join the fun.

Mixed-media illustrations feature cartoon owls with a variety of clothing and accessories. Extending across each double-page spread, they show each bird preparing and then joining the group. Appropriate numbers appear as the group enlarges. Drawn on natural brown paper with colored pencils and painted with gouache in trendy colors, some images show the owls’ cozy homes, and some feature a background of an evening sky fading from pink to purple to deep blue. On the last spread, the numbered owls are framed by lights as if on stage. Each of the rap-beat couplets that count off the owls is introduced with a separate explanatory line that stops the flow: "A party's not a party without a happy tune. / 3 cool owls have got the beat. / Now they're ready to hit the street." Adults who try to read the book aloud may find it hard going, although the repetition of the “Hootenanny, hootenanny” chorus between each segment will invite listeners to chant along. This jazzy offering doesn’t quite fit its audience. Even if familiar with folk festivals, children just old enough to begin to associate numbers with objects will find that easier to do without these elaborate extra details.

Pub Date: Aug. 30, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-4424-2273-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Little Simon/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2011

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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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It’s a bit hard to dance, or count, to this beat.

ONE MORE DINO ON THE FLOOR

Dinos that love to move and groove get children counting from one to 10—and perhaps moving to the beat.

Beginning with a solo bop by a female dino (she has eyelashes, doncha know), the dinosaur dance party begins. Each turn of the page adds another dino and a change in the dance genre: waltz, country line dancing, disco, limbo, square dancing, hip-hop, and swing. As the party would be incomplete without the moonwalk, the T. Rex does the honors…and once they are beyond their initial panic at his appearance, the onlookers cheer wildly. The repeated refrain on each spread allows for audience participation, though it doesn’t easily trip off the tongue: “They hear a swish. / What’s this? / One more? / One more dino on the floor.” Some of the prehistoric beasts are easily identifiable—pterodactyl, ankylosaurus, triceratops—but others will be known only to the dino-obsessed; none are identified, other than T-Rex. Packed spreads filled with psychedelically colored dinos sporting blocks of color, stripes, or polka dots (and infectious looks of joy) make identification even more difficult, to say nothing of counting them. Indeed, this fails as a counting primer: there are extra animals (and sometimes a grumpy T-Rex) in the backgrounds, and the next dino to join the party pokes its head into the frame on the page before. Besides all that, most kids won’t get the dance references.

It’s a bit hard to dance, or count, to this beat. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: March 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-8075-1598-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Whitman

Review Posted Online: Jan. 20, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2016

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