A zany read-aloud book for the youngest of diners.

THERE'S A GIRAFFE IN MY SOUP

Lively and quirky, Burach’s first picture-book outing aims to send kids into fits of giggles.

A little boy pops into a restaurant expecting a delicious bowl of tomato soup. Instead, he encounters a whole zoo-ful of animals in his soup. Hilarity ensues. First, a bowl with a gangly giraffe arrives at his table. This is followed by an alligator with an appetite for children and then a host of animals including a drowning elephant, a sleeping koala, and, ultimately, a massive blue whale. Giving up on soup, the boy decides to go straight to dessert. Alas, the waiter can’t get that right either! While the dialogue is succinct and simple, attempts at wordplay are more contrived than clever. “ ‘YAK! YAK! YAK!’ ‘Yuck? Yuck? Yuck? / Oh. YAK. Yuck.’ ” Later, the waiter thinks the boy is accusing him of lying when he’s warning him about a lion. However, Burach’s illustrations more than make up for this shortfall. Dynamic angles and multiple points of view ensure that the colorful characters leap off the stark white pages. Double-page spreads emphasize size and heft. Amusing facial expressions animate the characters, and googly eyes and rosy cheeks make even normally scary creatures seem cute and docile. Plus, brilliant use of the front endpapers starts the story with an unexpected prologue.

A zany read-aloud book for the youngest of diners. (Picture book. 2-5)

Pub Date: Feb. 23, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-06-236014-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 6, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2015

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An adventurous treat of a bedtime story.

BEDTIME FOR SWEET CREATURES

A patient mother with a healthy sense of whimsy helps prepare her headstrong toddler for bed.

The story opens with a toddler, fists raised into the air, proclaiming, “No! No! No!” Thank goodness this not-at-the-moment-sweet creature’s mother is patient and creative as she corrals her child into a bedtime routine that may feel familiar to many readers. The words and behaviors of the child evading bed are translated into animal sounds and behaviors: wide-eyed and asking “Who? Who?” like an owl; shaking hair and roaring like a lion; hanging on for a hug like a koala. And, of course, the requisite leaving bed for a last trip to the bathroom and drink, like a human child. Zunon’s art takes this book to the next level: Her portrayals of the animals mentioned in the text are colorful and full of intriguing patterns and shapes. Additionally, the expressions on the faces of the mother, child, and animals speak volumes, portraying the emotions of each. Arguably, the sweetest part of the story comes at the end, when the child asks to sleep with Mommy and Dad. Though the mother sighs, the child climbs in, along with “owl, bear, snake, kitty, fawn, squirrel, koala, tiger, wolf.” (Readers attuned to details will notice the father’s look of delight at the parade of animals.) All characters are Black.

An adventurous treat of a bedtime story. (Picture book. 2-5)

Pub Date: Jan. 14, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4926-3832-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Review Posted Online: Sept. 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2019

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A forgettable tale.

THE LITTLEST REINDEER

Dot, the smallest reindeer at the North Pole, is too little to fly with the reindeer team on Christmas Eve, but she helps Santa in a different, unexpected way.

Dot is distressed because she can’t jump and fly like the other, bigger reindeer. Her family members encourage her and help her practice her skills, and her mother tells her, “There’s always next year.” Dot’s elf friend, Oliver, encourages her and spends time playing with her, doing things that Dot can do well, such as building a snowman and chasing their friend Yeti (who looks like a fuzzy, white gumdrop). On Christmas Eve, Santa and the reindeer team take off with their overloaded sleigh. Only Dot notices one small present that’s fallen in the snow, and she successfully leaps into the departing sleigh with the gift. This climactic flying leap into the sleigh is not adequately illustrated, as Dot is shown just starting to leap and then already in the sleigh. A saccharine conclusion notes that being little can sometimes be great and that “having a friend by your side makes anything possible.” The story is pleasant but predictable, with an improbably easy solution to Dot’s problem. Illustrations in a muted palette are similarly pleasant but predictable, with a greeting-card flavor that lacks originality. The elf characters include boys, girls, and adults; all the elves and Santa and Mrs. Claus are white.

A forgettable tale. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-338-15738-3

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Cartwheel/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Aug. 21, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2017

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