A yearlong exploration of nature to hold in your hands.

A YEAR WITH MAMA EARTH

Savor this scrapbook of softly filtered illustrations honoring the wonders of Mama Earth.

Each double-page spread averages 50 words, but older readers will appreciate the rural natural world of a northern temperate climate, and younger readers will enjoy illustrations of curious children scouting out pumpkins growing in the field, decorating shrubs with strings of berries for winter birds, collecting maple sap in the spring, and enjoying a summer campfire with fireflies, mosquitos, and toasted marshmallows. The book is organized by month beginning with September, so classrooms as well as families can revisit the book monthly and focus on the lyrical descriptions of change. In October, feel “Mama [laugh] a chill wind / that stirs the maple leaves / into a golden whirl / while children spin and spin.” In January, watch and listen as “Mama Earth loads the trees’ arms / with white, and blows light fluff / against the windowpane.” “Mama Earth’s sunny smile cracks / the last of April’s ice along the river’s / edge.” Readers who don’t live in the country or in a temperate climate can compare and contrast how their weather, plants, animals, and outdoor exploration change monthly and create their own scrapbook. The five child characters are racially diverse; except for one jack-o’-lantern, both text and illustrations are free of holiday references.

A yearlong exploration of nature to hold in your hands. (author’s note, illustrator’s note) (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 10, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-8028-5505-3

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Eerdmans

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

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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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A sweet reminder that it’s easy to weather a storm with the company and kindness of friends.

GOOD NIGHT, LITTLE BLUE TRUCK

Is it a stormy-night scare or a bedtime book? Both!

Little Blue Truck and his good friend Toad are heading home when a storm lets loose. Before long, their familiar, now very nervous barnyard friends (Goat, Hen, Goose, Cow, Duck, and Pig) squeeze into the garage. Blue explains that “clouds bump and tumble in the sky, / but here inside we’re warm and dry, / and all the thirsty plants below / will get a drink to help them grow!” The friends begin to relax. “Duck said, loud as he could quack it, / ‘THUNDER’S JUST A NOISY RACKET!’ ” In the quiet after the storm, the barnyard friends are sleepy, but the garage is not their home. “ ‘Beep!’ said Blue. ‘Just hop inside. / All aboard for the bedtime ride!’ ” Young readers will settle down for their own bedtimes as Blue and Toad drop each friend at home and bid them a good night before returning to the garage and their own beds. “Blue gave one small sleepy ‘Beep.’ / Then Little Blue Truck fell fast asleep.” Joseph’s rich nighttime-blue illustrations (done “in the style of [series co-creator] Jill McElmurry”) highlight the power of the storm and capture the still serenity that follows. Little Blue Truck has been chugging along since 2008, but there seems to be plenty of gas left in the tank.

A sweet reminder that it’s easy to weather a storm with the company and kindness of friends. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Oct. 22, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-328-85213-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: June 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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