THE LOOKING BOOK

A HIDE-AND-SEEK COUNTING STORY

Bouncing verse takes Ned through the pages of the book as he searches for his lost cat Pistachio. Huliska-Beith’s (Recess Queen, 2002, etc.) bright acrylic-and-collage illustrations depict a rubber-limbed Ned and his bespectacled horse as they travel through a series of surreal landscapes, always missing the (appropriately) green cat. Each page of the story, from 1-28, is numbered prominently, and most include some grouping of objects to count; these range from the obvious-but-clever (four goldfish and four four-leaf clovers on page 4) to the obscure (22 stripes on the tiger on page 22) to the absent (no such groupings on pages 9 or 14, for instance), making the counting activity hit-or-miss. Pistachio herself is more or less easy to spot, but some spreads feature two facing single-page illustrations while some are double-page spreads; the logic of Pistachio-spotting varies according to the page layout. Hoberman’s (Bill Grogan’s Goat, above, etc.) text rollicks along cheerily enough at first, but becomes rhythmically monotonous by page 18 or so, and the “book” that Ned moves through has no unifying narrative arc to milk the metaliterary device. While children are likely to enjoy the game of finding Pistachio, adult readers may be grinding their teeth by the end. There are better counting books and hide-and-seek books available, and goodness knows that, in the year following Wiesner’s The Three Pigs, there are better books that deconstruct the notion of book. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: April 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-316-36328-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Megan Tingley/Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2002

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As ephemeral as a valentine.

LOVE FROM THE CRAYONS

Daywalt and Jeffers’ wandering crayons explore love.

Each double-page spread offers readers a vision of one of the anthropomorphic crayons on the left along with the statement “Love is [color].” The word love is represented by a small heart in the appropriate color. Opposite, childlike crayon drawings explain how that color represents love. So, readers learn, “love is green. / Because love is helpful.” The accompanying crayon drawing depicts two alligators, one holding a recycling bin and the other tossing a plastic cup into it, offering readers two ways of understanding green. Some statements are thought-provoking: “Love is white. / Because sometimes love is hard to see,” reaches beyond the immediate image of a cat’s yellow eyes, pink nose, and black mouth and whiskers, its white face and body indistinguishable from the paper it’s drawn on, to prompt real questions. “Love is brown. / Because sometimes love stinks,” on the other hand, depicted by a brown bear standing next to a brown, squiggly turd, may provoke giggles but is fundamentally a cheap laugh. Some of the color assignments have a distinctly arbitrary feel: Why is purple associated with the imagination and pink with silliness? Fans of The Day the Crayons Quit (2013) hoping for more clever, metaliterary fun will be disappointed by this rather syrupy read.

As ephemeral as a valentine. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Dec. 24, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5247-9268-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Penguin Workshop

Review Posted Online: Feb. 2, 2021

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PIRATES DON'T TAKE BATHS

Echoes of Runaway Bunny color this exchange between a bath-averse piglet and his patient mother. Using a strategy that would probably be a nonstarter in real life, the mother deflects her stubborn offspring’s string of bath-free occupational conceits with appeals to reason: “Pirates NEVER EVER take baths!” “Pirates don’t get seasick either. But you do.” “Yeesh. I’m an astronaut, okay?” “Well, it is hard to bathe in zero gravity. It’s hard to poop and pee in zero gravity too!” And so on, until Mom’s enticing promise of treasure in the deep sea persuades her little Treasure Hunter to take a dive. Chunky figures surrounded by lots of bright white space in Segal’s minimally detailed watercolors keep the visuals as simple as the plotline. The language isn’t quite as basic, though, and as it rendered entirely in dialogue—Mother Pig’s lines are italicized—adult readers will have to work hard at their vocal characterizations for it to make any sense. Moreover, younger audiences (any audiences, come to that) may wonder what the piggy’s watery closing “EUREKA!!!” is all about too. Not particularly persuasive, but this might coax a few young porkers to get their trotters into the tub. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: March 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-399-25425-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: Jan. 26, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2011

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