One unique picture book with much to say equals quite a lot.

ONE IS A LOT (EXCEPT WHEN IT'S NOT)

This Canadian import creatively explores concepts of a lot and a little, enough and not enough, through a seemingly simple story set in a lush, green park in summertime.

Each page or spread of the story includes a brief, declarative sentence beginning with a numeral: 0, 1, or 2. For example, “1 sun is a lot.” A frisky squirrel finds that one huge oak tree or one acorn is a lot. But two acorns can be too much to hold onto. For two children walking their dogs in the park, two leashes are too much when those leashes become tangled. This pair of children meet and become friends, sharing one umbrella and playing with a ball. One has brown skin and black, curly hair; the other has light skin and brown hair swept back in an unusual style. One acorn falls into a puddle as the children play, and over the concluding pages, that acorn sprouts and grows into an oak tree. In the final spread, the two children are now a grown-up couple with a child and dog of their own, having a family picnic under the tree that grew from just one acorn. Other people in the park include children and adults of different races. The thoughtful, minimalist text offers subtle insights into perceptions from different viewpoints as well as opportunities for discussion and interpretation. Appealing illustrations with the look of watercolors capture the humor of the situations in the park and smoothly convey multiple secondary plotlines.

One unique picture book with much to say equals quite a lot. (Picture book. 4-9)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5253-0013-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Kids Can

Review Posted Online: June 25, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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A mind-stretching outlook that may help youngsters with change—and will certainly cause them to think.

THE END IS JUST THE BEGINNING

A cyclical take on life.

Endings can sometimes feel sad or heavy in their finality. But Bender reverses this perspective. In fact, the story starts, as a tiny caterpillar tells readers, with “THE END.” A young tot on a bed closing a book looks puzzled. Bender acknowledges the absurdity. “But wait—how can a book possibly start with the end? That’s ridiculous.” It’s not, once you change your frame of reference. Continuing in a conversational tone, Bender gives examples. Some are personal and immediate: “The end of a disagreement with someone … / is just the beginning of making up.” Others are more abstract: “When you count, the end of one number is just the beginning of the next number… / and so on and so on and so on, all the way to infinity, which, by the way, NEVER ends!” Two friends or perhaps siblings (one with brown skin and brown hair in two Afro puffs, the other with pale skin and straight, black hair) act out the scenarios, which are strung together over the course of a day from one morning to the next. Mayo’s illustrations also dance between concrete and abstract, illustrating disagreement with one kid scowling, sitting back to the other, who looks distressed, next to a ruined sand castle and infinity with an image of the two kids cycling along an enormous infinity sign. In a meta-infused closing, Bender concludes with “THE BEGINNING / (of discovering the next book).” A cleverly placed butterfly flits away. The hazy wash over muted tones gives a warm, cozy embrace to the message. (This book was reviewed digitally with 9-by-18-inch double-page spreads viewed at 48.2% of actual size.)

A mind-stretching outlook that may help youngsters with change—and will certainly cause them to think. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: April 20, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-984896-93-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: March 2, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2021

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Alpha-BEST! A sure-fire winner and a B-U-T of a book.

THE ALPHABET'S ALPHABET

The alphabet comes out to play!

This delightfully entertaining alphabet book stands out in a very crowded field. The letters look like themselves, naturally, but they’re also shown to closely resemble others in their abecedarian family—with slight tweaks. Charming opening and closing poems explain that letters are all interrelated, just as members of the human family are. As in many an alphabet book, the letters are ordered sequentially. They’re announced in Harris’ marvelous, rollicking rhyming pairs that read and scan beautifully. Each actual letter is named and depicted straightforwardly but is then identified, verbally and pictorially, on the same page as the letter that it genuinely is in different, fanciful circumstances. For example, “An A is an H that just won’t stand up right. / A B is a D with its belt on too tight.” In the first instance, H’s usually erect left upright collapses against the right one in sweltering desert heat, forming A; a tight belt tightly cinches D’s waist, forming B. Santat’s colorful, riotous alpha-illustrations imbue pages or spreads with comical visual details, such as verbal and/or visual puns and/or commentary from the letters. Humans are depicted as racially diverse. Children will love creating similar poems and illustrations. Endpaper artwork features lined paper familiar from primary schools, with numbered arrows demonstrating the directions of the strokes needed to form alphabet letters. Readers are challenged to decode a clever secret message on the rear endpaper.

Alpha-BEST! A sure-fire winner and a B-U-T of a book. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 29, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-316-26662-8

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: June 3, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2020

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