THE ALPHABET FROM A TO Y WITH BONUS LETTER Z!

This high-profile crossover will slide effortlessly onto the bestseller lists, but it’s not likely to win its creators many new adult fans—or any child ones. Showing a fine disregard for foolish consistencies like end words that actually rhyme consistently, Martin fashions surreal situations in 26 couplets, each paired to a literal illustration from Chast strewn with both her customary cast of homely, anxious figures and other words or items that feature the selected letter. Though some spreads have a certain verbal and visual bounce—in the art for “Pedro the puppy piled poop on his paws / And Papa dog published his photo because,” for instance, the peeved paternal parent brandishes a copy of “Popular Pooch,” as mama dog praises a parsnip pizza—more often the captions read like random words strung together. Furthermore, some of the image choices, such as the 107 (or so) hunchbacks in Henrietta’s hairdo, or the drunk wandering past David the dog-faced boy, skate to the edge of poor taste. A gallery of accented letters on the endpapers provides some added value, but not enough. Like Shirley and Milton Glaser’s The Alphazeds (2003), any resemblance to a title for tots is coincidental. (Picture book. Adult)

Pub Date: Oct. 23, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-385-51662-4

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Flying Dolphin/Doubleday

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2008

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A substantive and affirming addition to any collection.

THE ABCS OF BLACK HISTORY

An impressive array of names, events, and concepts from Black history are introduced in this alphabet book for early-elementary readers.

From A for anthem (“a banner of song / that wraps us in hope, lets us know we belong”) to Z for zenith (“the top of that mountain King said we would reach”), this picture book is a journey through episodes, ideas, and personalities that represent a wide range of Black experiences. Some spreads celebrate readers themselves, like B for beautiful (“I’m talking to you!”); others celebrate accomplishments, such as E for explore (Matthew Henson, Mae Jemison), or experiences, like G for the Great Migration. The rhyming verses are light on the tongue, making the reading smooth and soothing. The brightly colored, folk art–style illustrations offer vibrant scenes of historical and contemporary Black life, with common people and famous people represented in turn. Whether reading straight through and poring over each page or flipping about to look at the refreshing scenes full of brown and black faces, readers will feel pride and admiration for the resilience and achievements of Black people and a call to participate in the “unfinished…American tale.” Endnotes clarify terms and figures, and a resource list includes child-friendly books, websites, museums, and poems.

A substantive and affirming addition to any collection. (Informational picture book. 6-11)

Pub Date: Dec. 8, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5235-0749-8

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Workman

Review Posted Online: Sept. 29, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2020

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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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