BLACK ALL AROUND!

This earnest story told in rhyme focuses on things that are black in color, as seen through the eyes of a little African-American girl. Hubbell (Trucks: Whizz! Zoom! Rumble!, 2003, etc.) provides a disparate collection of items (a limousine, black cats, crickets) and concepts (the inside of a pocket, the night sky, "the empty place where a tooth should be") that are black (or dark brown) in color. The cheerfully celebratory concept of black as a "sleek and jazzy, warm and cozy" color is a bit forced, and the rhyme scheme is not consistent throughout the volume, causing a rather jarring effect when the text is read aloud. Due to the demands of the rhyming word pairs, many items are in juxtaposition that have no logical relationship to each other or to the child narrator, but Tate (Summer Sun Risin', 2002, etc.) creatively solves these design challenges with his illustrations. His acrylic paintings flow across double-page spreads, filled with swirling lines, varied perspectives, and neon bright shades to balance out the black items under discussion. The little girl's family is also included in the illustrations, with a smiling dad who looks quite a bit like the illustrator's photo on the back flap. The author's rhymes try hard to make black an intriguing, special shade, but it is Tate's vibrant art that pulls the concept together. (Picture book. 3-7)

 

Pub Date: April 1, 2003

ISBN: 1-58430-048-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Lee & Low Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2003

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Whether they’re counting scores of peas, enjoying the rhymes and puns or relishing the funny visual quirks, families are...

1-2-3 PEAS

After an alphabetical, rhyming tour de force (LMNO Peas, 2010), Baker’s energetic pea pack is back—this time, to count by ones and 10s.

Baker sidesteps the trickiness of rhyming the numerals by selecting a repeating word for each short verse. “ONE pea searching—look, look, look, / TWO peas fishing—hook, hook, hook.” Those numerals rise sky-high (to peas, at least) to dominate the digitally composed visuals, often serving as props for the frenzy of vegetative activity. At “TEN peas building—pound, pound, pound,” the peas erect a wooden platform around the numeral—mainly, it would seem, as an excuse for exuberantly hammering dozens of nails. Baker circumvents those oft-pesky ’teens in one deft double-page spread: “Eleven to nineteen—skip, skip, skip!” Then it’s a double-page spread per decade, with peas traveling, napping, watching fireworks and more. “SEVENTY peas singing” provide a bevy of details to spy: A fab foursome (the Peatles) rocks out above a chorus and director. Nearby, a barbershop quartet, a Wagnerian soloist, a showering pea and a dancing “Peayoncé” add to the fun. 

Whether they’re counting scores of peas, enjoying the rhymes and puns or relishing the funny visual quirks, families are sure to devour Baker’s latest winner. Totally ap-pea-ling! (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: July 24, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-4424-4551-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Beach Lane/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 30, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2012

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Between its autumn and field-trip themes and the fact that not many books start countdowns from 20, this may find its way to...

PUMPKIN COUNTDOWN

A class visits the pumpkin patch, giving readers a chance to count down from 20.

At the farm, Farmer Mixenmatch gives them the tour, which includes a petting zoo, an educational area, a corn maze and a tractor ride to the pumpkin patch. Holub’s text cleverly though not always successfully rhymes each child’s name within the line: “ ‘Eighteen kids get on our bus,’ says Russ. / ‘But someone’s late,’ says Kate. / ‘Wait for me!’ calls Kiri.” Pumpkins at the tops of pages contain the numerals that match the text, allowing readers to pair them with the orange-colored, spelled-out numbers. Some of the objects proffered to count are a bit of a stretch—“Guess sixteen things we’ll see,” count 14 cars that arrived at the farm before the bus—but Smith’s artwork keeps things easy to count, except for a challenging page that asks readers to search for 17 orange items (answers are at the bottom, upside down). Strangely, Holub includes one page with nothing to count—a sign marks “15 Pumpkin Street.” Charming, multicultural round-faced characters and lots of detail encourage readers to go back through the book scouring pages for the 16 things the kids guessed they might see. Endpapers featuring a smattering of pumpkin facts round out the text.

Between its autumn and field-trip themes and the fact that not many books start countdowns from 20, this may find its way to many library shelves. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: July 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-8075-6660-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Whitman

Review Posted Online: May 16, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2012

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